To remove a spine, pull it straight out from the direction it went in. Wash the area with hydrogen peroxide. You can also dab on some antibiotic cream, aloe, comfrey or witch hazel. Watch the puncture for signs of infection.
Goathead is an invasive species that is native to the Mediterranean. It easily outcompetes native species by smothering them. This causes a lack of diversity and it harms wildlife. Native plants and animals evolved together and support each other, so when an invasive species takes over, it’s bad for the entire local environment.
The leaves are toxic to animals when consumed in large amounts. In addition, it can cause necrosis of the skin, damage to the eye, and in extreme cases, it may cause deaths in immature or smaller animals.
Removing a Spine
Take precautions so that you don’t bring the burrs into the house. Wipe your shoes off on a rough mat outside. If you have been working in the yard or garden, remove your shoes on the porch or in a mudroom. Check your pants for signs of burrs. Sweep and vacuum floors frequently. You will also need to check your pet’s fur before they come in and jump on the couch.
There are two different biocontrol organisms that you can buy. These are a seed-feeding weevil (Microlarinus lareynii) and a stem and crown mining weevil (Microlarinus lypriformis). Use both for the most effective control.
The seeds are long-lived and can remain dormant in the soil for up to five years. If all that wasn’t bad enough, the plant has a long taproot that goes deep into the soil.
You can purchase puncture vine weevils from biological supply companies, but this method has several drawbacks. Weevils location-sensitive and may not survive if you buy them from a company far away.
The puncturevine I have recently been pulling up is too mature for control with an herbicide for this summer, as it already has seeds and is past the stage where it’s effective to use a chemical control.
One plant can produce 300 to 5,000 seeds per season, and can grow in mats up to five feet, so it’s definitely a weed you want to start controlling as soon as you see it sprouting up in your yard.
The most effective way to eliminate this weed is to pull it up by hand or use a hoe to cut the plant off the deep taproot. Try to do this while it’s still in the flower stage, before it seeds.
Don’t add these plants to your compost pile. The seeds will survive most composting processes.
Master Gardeners don’t recommend chemical control for this weed unless you have a large area that is infested and it’s difficult to access for tilling the seedling plants under.
Here is how the University of California (U.C.) describes this pesky weed: “Puncturevine produces many burs (burrs) with sharp spines that can injure humans and animals, as well puncture bicycle tires. (It’s) leaves contain compounds called saponins, which can be toxic to livestock, especially sheep, when eaten in quantity.”
Mulching landscape beds with at least three inches of mulch, or a weed barrier that screens out all light, can also be an effective method to eliminate this weed. This needs to be done during the winter and early spring, before the weed sprouts. Be warned that if the puncturevine sprouts on top of the mulch it can still grow due to a very long tap root.
After burning, you’ll need to use these follow-up steps:
*Be sure to take proper precaution when using this method, especially when it’s dry and windy, to avoid unnecessary fires. Keep a close watch and have a hose on hand at all times. You should also contact your local fire department to see if you need a permit or if burning is even allowed within your city or county limits. You should always avoid using a propane weed burner in dry areas and during the hot summer.
Because the plant itself is quite pretty, most people don’t realize that they’re dealing with these horrible thorns until one sticks into the sole of your shoe, punctures your bike tire, or worst of all: jabs right into the bottom of your bare foot.
Well, if you’ve ever stepped on one you probably know what they are.
Farmers have also mentioned the benefits of carbon emission to the soil. They have noticed plants do well on soils that had flame weeding done, compared to other parts of the yard.
If you think uprooting them from the ground would work, think again. They will just grow from the remaining parts of the deep taproot underground.
Remove the debris from the yard once the plants have died after burning them with a propane flame. Next, use a leaf rake to pile them together and a shovel to place them into yard waste bags, lawn wagon, or wheelbarrow. Make sure you dispose of the waste where the weed won’t grow, such as a dumpster, in case some seeds survived.