Invasive Plant Guide: Puncturevine

Tribulus terrestris

Puncturevine Plant & Flower

Identifying characteristics

  • Flower color: bright yellow, solitary
  • Flowers:  April to October
  • Stems: highly branched, green to reddish-brown, prostrate and spreading radially from the crown on open ground to  erect when shaded or competing with other plants
  • Leaves: opposite, even-pinnate compound, ~ 1.5-2 inches long, with 3-7 leaflet pairs per leaf and a small extension at the tip
  • Seeds: extremely sharp, can puncture bicycle tires and shoes
  • Growth habit: annual
Puncturevine Seed


Disturbed places, roadsides, cultivated fields, yards, waste places, walk ways. Grows best on dry sandy soils, but tolerates most soil types. Intolerant of freezing temperatures.


Puncturevine has not been present in this area for very long. Now is the time to control the spread before the seed bank becomes unmanageable.

Most plants on the Klamath are found along the June high-water line (where a white, dried algal crust can be found) and in areas with sand between river rocks within 100' of the river.

This plant comes to us from Southern California, moving up through the Central Valley, where it is known to grow in extremely harsh urban environments such as abandoned parking lots and sidewalk cracks. Several individual plants were also noted in Happy Camp an urban setting. Interestingly enough, the plants had been sprayed with an herbicide and were brown and crispy.

More Info

California Department of Food & Agriculture