Florida weed that seeds stick to clothes
The flower heads — small white petals surrounding orange centers — are a “nothing special” bloom, too small and irregular to be pretty and lacking a pleasant fragrance. The hairy stems have a tendency to bend over and re-root.
|Flowers and seeds|
Removal is not easy. The slightly curved, rigid black spikes grab at fabric as fiercely as ticks attach themselves to skin. A comparison to ticks is not far-fetched. Another common name for Bidens alba is beggar’s tick, a reference to the seed-covered clothing of hobos walking along railroad tracks.
|Nasty barbed Biden seeds stick to anything they touch|
With so much going against it, I was surprised to learn that instead of despising this invasive weed, people in some cultures actually appreciate it. Sub-Saharan Africans eat the fresh, tender young leaves as a vegetable, while Ugandans prefer their leaves boiled in sour milk. In Mexico, the seeds find new life as a stimulating substitute for tea, while Filipinos make wine out of the flowers.
How to Get Rid of Goat’s Head Weeds, Seeds, and Stickers
Here's how to get rid of Tribulus terrestris, or goat's head, in your yard.
My Battle Against Goat's Head Weeds
I moved to beautiful Northern Arizona about 22 years ago and loved it immediately. After having lived for years in the southern desert, the area offered welcome relief from the extreme heat and the vigilance we had to keep up against harmful natural creatures.
When I moved into the new house with its large, fenced yard, I thought I would be able to create gardens full of happy plants. As a retired professional plant grower, I couldn't wait to create my own picturesque gardenscape.
Then I had my first encounter with a goat's head plant (Tribulus terrestris). It also goes by many other names (see below for a list), but, to me, this plant is quite simply "The Enemy," and I am at war with it!
These Hard-to-Kill Weeds Are Everywhere
It went like this: I was out in the yard, and I reached down to pull a weed from an area I was clearing. I felt what I was feared might have been a sting by an unknown bug, but instead of a stinger, I saw a roundish, odd, hard thing stuck in my skin. I went to pull it out and was immediately impaled again on my other finger. I had not seen that there were several barbs on it.
After I got it out, I looked around and—to my horror—saw that this plant was everywhere in my yard, and it was spreading rapidly!
Goat's head weeds are like flypaper stuck to your hands, and killing them seems impossible.
But, my friends, you can control and kill goat's head weed and keep it from taking over your yard, but it takes patience, perseverance, and some good tools.
What I've Learned About Dealing With Goat's Head Weed
- What you'll need to get rid of goat's head weed forever
- What I tried that didn't work
- Season-by-season steps to kill the stickers
- My recipe for a homemade weed killer (that works)
- How to safely use a propane vapor torch
- Chemicals that kill goat's head weed and how to use them
- What to do if you step on a thorn (and how to keep them out of your house)
- Plants that choke out this weed
- Goats and goat's head weed
- Weevils that eat this weed
- Other names for goat's head weed
- How this weed spreads so quickly
How to Get Rid of Goat's Head Forever
Here's what you'll need:
- Propane weed-burning torch (for large infestations; check your local laws regarding use of these devices)
- Protective gloves
- Epsom salts and white vinegar (diluted 1/2 cup each per gallon of water)
- Chemical weed killer containing Oryzalin (follow safety precautions)
- Good upright weeder/extractor
- Tarps to lay down after you spray
- Weed collection bin
- Weed puller (hoe, claw hammer, or lawn jaws)
- (Optional) Mulch to lay over treated and weeded area
Note: I Do Not Recommend Roundup
The main ingredient in Roundup is the herbicide Glyphosate, which some research links to cancer.
What Doesn't Work to Get Rid of Goat's Head
Here's what I tried first: I sprayed the plants with my regular weed killer, but that didn't work. Then I spent the rest of the summer pulling them out of my front yard, one by one, by the roots. My back nearly broke, but I had cleared away a good area and was sure they would not return. Sadly, I was mistaken.
We had a monsoon in August so severe that the yard behind ours flooded and overran the small berm separating our properties. The result was that my yard was immersed in water for several days, leaving millions of goat's head seeds on the land around my house.
After All That, the Goat's Head Came Back
The next spring the plants all emerged again. I knew I had to refine my tactics. Now, after several more seasons of battle, I am a goat's head warrior!
Read More From Dengarden
How to Paint Behind a Toilet Without Removing It
Tips for Sanding Cabinets Before Painting
Review of the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
The green Tribulus terrestris "fruit" is surrounded by long spikes.
Once dry, the spikes sharpen and can puncture bicycle tires (and feet).
Season-by-Season Steps to Get Rid of Goat's Head Stickers
Late Winter/Spring (March–June)
Lay down a pre-emergent weed killer like Surflan, which contains oryzalin and trifluralin, as a preventative. I have also successfully used a home remedy weed killer: Dilute 1/2 cup each of Epsom salts and vinegar in a gallon of water and spray thoroughly.) Avoid spraying any "good" ground covers, as you want them to flourish and take space away from the Evil One.
- If you have large infestations, sweep with your propane weed burner, staying close to the ground to burn out as much of the roots as you can. Follow your burn with a weed killer that will get to the roots still living underground. Note: If you use a weed burner, you won't need to rake.
- At the first sign of their little green bodies, spray with weed killer. Tip: Spray and then cover with a sun-blocking tarp for about a week. I start this process close to my house and move outward. Peek under the tarp, and when the plants have turned yellow/brown, remove the tarp and move on to the next step. (Note: You can spray these at any time of the year, but beginning the following year, start on schedule to fully get them out of your yard.)
- Remove the goat's head plants, including the roots, with your upright weeder. If you are limber enough and don't have many plants to remove, you can pull them out by hand, but make sure you wear protective gloves. Grasp the entire plant as close to the ground as possible and slowly pull sideways to get the entire root system out. Pulling straight up usually snaps the plant off, leaving the roots still underground.
- Rake the area, removing all goat's head debris, and put it into the trash. Finally, sweep the area you cleared to pick up any thorns. Remember to always put goat's head weeds and thorns in your trash or burn them. They reseed like crazy, if you don't.
- If you have not used chemicals, plant wildflowers and cultivate any other ground covers you can to choke the goat's head plants out.
- Sit back and have a cool one!
If you live in an area with cold winters, the first freeze will kill goat's head weed. But as stated earlier, the plant reseeds aggressively, so be sure to clear your property of any thorns, stems, leaves, and roots. Dispose of these in the trash or by burning.
How to Kill Goat's Head Weed Naturally
Dilute 1/2 cup of Epsom salts and 1/2 cup vinegar in a gallon of water. Spray thoroughly.
It looks pretty here, but this plant will drive you insane if it gets established on your property.
How to Safely Use a Propane Vapor Torch
Moist fall and winter weather is the perfect time to attack large patches of goat's head weeds by burning. Many readers rave about using the Red Dragon VT 2-23 C Propane Vapor Torch in their yards. It makes chemicals unnecessary and is easier than the physical work involved with pulling and raking methods.
- Pros: The burner destroys both plant and its seeds immediately.
- Cons: It won't always kill the roots so they might come back again.
So, for those of you with large areas to clear who and don't mind burning areas down to the soil, this is a very good option. I would recommend following with a weed root killer that I have listed in this article.
- First, you must check with your local fire department or city for regulations on its use. Some will require a burn permit, and some do not allow them at all.
- Always have a watering hose ready.
- Pre-water the boundary areas to prevent the burning from getting away from you.
- Never burn in windy conditions!
Follow these precautions and you should be fine.
Chemicals That Kill Goat's Head Weed and How to Use Them
Chemicals are harsh but necessary. In your battle with goat's head weed, you must have chemicals in your arsenal. I know chemicals are not always friendly to the environment, but used properly and chosen carefully, they are very helpful weapons in fighting this scourge. They won't do it all, but combined with the other methods, chemicals will reduce the weeds.
These are the chemicals I have found to be effective when used as directed and in conjunction with the other tactics.
- Oryzalin and Trifluralin (Surflan) Pre-emergents to be applied in late winter/early spring.
- Glyphosate (Roundup)and Dicamba Post-emergents to be applied to growing plants. Note: I no longer use Roundup for health reasons.
Safety tips: Make sure your pets do not walk on these chemicals when still wet. I cover the areas I have sprayed with a cheap tarp until they are dry. This helps the product be more effective. It deprives the plants of sun, allows the chemical to penetrate fully, and protects my cats from coming into contact with the chemical.
Will it kill every plant you spray? No, nothing does, but it will kill a lot of them. After they are dead, rake the plants and sweep up any thorn heads.
Caution! Read all labels as some of these can kill other plants you do not want to be harmed!
Dried goat's head thorns embedded in a foot. Pull them straight out with a finger on each side.
Stepped on a Goat's Head Thorn?
- Scream. It does help.
- Do not just grab under your foot to yank it out.
- Carefully put a finger to each side of it and pull it straight out.
- Limp to your medicine cabinet/first aid kit and douse the wound in antiseptic, such as hydrogen peroxide or medicinal alcohol.
- Apply a layer of antibiotic cream and cover with a sterile bandage.
- Check it periodically and watch for any sign of infection.
Keep Thorns Out of Your House
For those of you who walk on areas of your property that have or have had these weeds, be sure to thoroughly wipe your shoes off on a rough surface or mat before entering your home. If you don't, you will carry the burrs inside and they will come off on your carpet and you run the risk of stepping on them in bare feet.
The thorns can easily penetrate soft-soled shoes and slippers (not to mention tires, in some cases) so it's important to take care to scour your carpeting and floors for them. Animals can bring them in as well. Sometimes I think they make their way in my house on their own!
If you have small children, make sure they always wear shoes in the house, to protect their little feet.
Desert Mallow is a great wildflower that will grow and propagate in your yard, especially if you live in the Southwest.
Plants That Choke Out Goat's Head Weed
For those of you who live in the southwestern U.S., Desert Mallow is a great natural wildflower to promote in your yard. These perennial desert plants flower all summer long.
The best part is that if allowed to grow and propagate, these beauties will help choke out goat's head weed. They require nothing: no watering and no fertilizer. Just let them flourish and you will have wonderful orange flowers that last and last. They are easily propagated by cuttings and they reseed each year, naturally multiplying.
I took this picture in mid-May.
Do Goats Eat Goat's Head Weed?
Some goat farmers say that their goats will eat burrs and other thorny plants. In some cases the animals eat everything but the thorns.
If you try using goats to eradicate goat's head weed, make sure to rake up and dispose of all plant debris the goats leave behind. These plants can reseed from thorns on the ground.
Weevils That Eat Goat's Head (Puncture Vine)
There are also commercially available weevils that kill goat's head. The weevils are called Microlarinus lareynii and Microlarinus lypriformis.
Together they are known as puncture vine weevils. Microlarinus lareynii works by eating away the side of a green goat's head burr. Then it lays its eggs inside the cavity and seals it up. As adults, these weevils do eat goat's heads, but the real damage is when the female uses the burr as an incubator for her eggs.
Microlarinus lypriformis lays its eggs in goat's head stems. Once hatched, the larvae feed on the plant.
Both weevils have been used in the U.S. to control goat's head weeds since the early 1960s. Interestingly, both the weevil and the goat's head plant are native to Europe, so one can only assume that goat's head isn't as big a problem in its original habitat!
Do Weevils Really Work?
At this time, I cannot say how effective weevils are, but I suggest you look into it. I do not believe it would work in my area as I am in a high wind location. The weevils would be blown away from my yard, helping out my neighbors downwind perhaps, but leaving me open to a rear attack again. I cannot say more than to suggest that you research them. Check with the agriculture department in your county to see if they are legal to use!
Other Names for Goat's Head Weed
These invasive weeds go by many names:
- Tribulus terrestris
- puncture vine
- caltrop or small caltrops
- devil's eyelashes
How Goat's Head Spreads So Quickly
Rapidly, it begins to spread, sending out tentacles. Then it produces little yellow or purple flowers. The roots grow deep very quickly and spread underground. From those roots more evil plants grow, reproducing at an alarming rate.
After they produce their little flowers, the thorns begin to grow, nestled under the leaves and vines, all but invisible until the unwary come near. Moisture will cause it to either hug the ground (less moisture) or grow more upright, with more spreading vines (more moisture).
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: I pulled every single one of these Goat Head Weeds out of my yard as soon as it showed one flower. None of them went to seed. This year I have just about as many, and am following the same program. I thought they were annuals, but I suppose the seeds stay fertile for several years. How many years does it take?
Answer: If you follow up the pulling of the weeds with something that will really penetrate the soil, and get up the loose old seeds you should have less and less each year. However, if the land around you have lots of them, they will make their way into your area again via wind, animals, etc.
Question: I have a round pen for training my horses with WASHED SAND. How do I get the actual stickers out, do I burn it?
Answer: I would do that, but you would have to rake to expose those underneath the top layer of sand, and depending on how big the pen is you could sift as many out as you can.
Question: Do only the fresh green "goat heads" germinate?
Answer: I believe so!
Question: Is there a male and female goat head weed? One with stickers and one without?
Answer: I have only seen those with the stickers.
© 2013 L Olson
Are You a Goat Head Warrior?
Carole Smith on August 21, 2020:
They are evil and vile. If you have dogs, watch them closely. If they get thorns in their paws and chew them out, the thorns can become embedded in the dogs gums, and you can incur a rather hefty vet bill. Thank you for advice about non- chemical weed killer.
BOUNDER on July 19, 2020:
Each thorn on the burr has a timer so that at given year in the future it will germinate just when you think you cleared out of the yard
Sarbat on June 27, 2020:
So, I had the same problem with goat heads for years until my next door neighbor began raising chickens. His chickens would run all over my yard and eat the "goat heads" when they were soft. They loved them. So no thorns! I know this is true because my dogs did not winper in pain from having gotten stuck. Sadly, he is moving and taking his chickens with him! Oh no!
Puncture Weed Killer on March 29, 2020:
Soft rubber sole shoes pickup the seeds when you no longer see green.
Gene T Calvert on January 24, 2020:
Another way to control them as a friend of mine does is to get some chickens. He had an acre lot that was covered with goat heads and he bought a few chickens, and his lot was fenced. The chickens feed on the plants as soon as they come up from the soil, so after a few years, his lot was cleared of the goat heads and all the other weeds. No spraying or digging them out. If more pop up, the chickens take care of them. And eggs too
Gene T Calvert on January 24, 2020:
I sprayed my 2 acre lot with "KILZALL" bought at Ace Hardware, did this 3 years in a row and no more goat heads. I spray while it is in the flower stage so there are no more goat heads to reseed. Works for me.
Andre on August 07, 2019:
Dragging old carpet behind a vehicle will snag all the seeds up. Throw carpet away and repeat,
GoatsHeadKiller on July 19, 2019:
I’m on year 2 going after this deviant. My story is as follows, scroll to the bottom paragraph for my solution/resists.
It’s a hot summer in NorthHills just North of bob hope (Burbank) airport, 2019. We had a significant heatwave last summer and mild winter. I began my trek last spring & was so pleased this year to see a lovely ground cover taking over that I began watering in the early hours until I identified it as the spring version of this horrible devil! Be aware, I have watched YouTube vids of folks doing annual controlled burns and slamming mats down over and over to rid their land of these demons, literally by the handful, when they seem to come by the thousand and have hearty underground root systems and burs that can be buried 5feet deep for 1/2a decade and randomly decide to germinate! Yes, 5+ years of dormancy and these prickers are still viable seeds!! To those of you taking on such a project as to create a human/animal/tire safe land, kudos. Be aware that this plant, as all other undesirables that pop up in ‘disturbed’ land serves a purpose. It was told to me by a rational person, in a moment of utter distress, like this:
When the country side has been disrupted but then left to its own devices, Mother Nature fills this area with a harmful plant that roots deep and needs little in self preservation, such as poison oak/ivy stinging nettles and yes, Tribulus terrestris, puncture vine, goats head burs, that one.
My knowledge has come from lots of prickles, manual work, research, patience & exacerbation.
The lot of land that surrounds this house has a
front yard that is roughly 30’x40’ has full sun from 10:30a til sundown and is made up of clay/sand/dust/rocks, apparently a stream ran through prior to development, which means that you can run a hose in one spot for 30 minutes and walk to the center of the pooled water with a teaspoon shallowly kick up dry dust.
The backyard is 3x the size and has full sun from sun up til 4or5p.
In merely battling this horrible burr which grows alongside crabgrass (with its seemingly single underground root system & impossible to identify ‘taproot’),
My Solution: I’ve found the ‘cancer causing’ Round-Up, the stem targeted/soil harmless HomeFront Weed&GrassKiller used next to the home remedy of using vinegar salt and dish soap (1gallon,1cup,2Tblspoons) each at full strength according to directions to be nearly equal in efficacy. What really seems to have done well after many run-throughs last summer filling the yard waste container each week after running the weed whacker (in full boots jeans sleeves gloves & glasses) is that this year when I let the whole yard get knee high around Feb/Mar and cut it down nearly to dirt, then I don’t remove the carnage. As long as we aren’t due for rain, (mind you our household removed a lot of the burs in the most painful possible ways of getting them caught in clothing feet shoes etc, as well as much of the yard waste dumps of last year) and I spot treat every mini-outcrop, for which I keep a watchful eye, I believe to have won the battle that will win this war. my next step is fully turning this dry clay/sand dirt, laying flattened cardboard boxes a couple inches down, then either straw (not hay, it has seed) or mulch, then soil (budget-permitting) and then a native ground cover.
I’ve done the above steps to a small portion (8’x10’ in the backyard & been diligent w/o cardboard in the rest) successfully in the last 4months or so. KeyNote:
The one real sanity-saver is the fact that both puncture vine and crabgrass can be easily outcompeted by local plants. Remember, they are filling a void, & effectively so, but even those seeds that remain viable so deep and forgotten will not flourish unless the void returns. So plant something that will be happy (long-term) in its place and these can be vanquished, hopefully without the need for controlled burns or exorcism. Fight the good fight!
Albuquerque, New Mexico on June 27, 2019:
Those dang seeds stick to shoes, laces, pants, pets and lots of children’s/pet’s toys! Battled them for years but thank goodness for brick walls, pitch forks and lots of bond fires! Haha, finally got ahead without chemicals. Very few came out with the rains this year.
Shauna McLean on June 17, 2019:
I heard that goat heads do no like nitrogen rich soil, is this true? Because I would love to grow some clover but fear nourishing the infestation that I am currently battling. I’m currently having to do the “pull out by hand” method because we do not own the land and the owners will not let us douse the ground with any chemicals or burn or kill out any of the ground cover.
Linda on May 15, 2019:
Instead of recommending your readers make sure that their kids WEAR their shoes IN the house – How about everyone take shoes OFF AT THE DOOR ! Not only will your house stay so much easier to keep clean, But there will be less of a midnight potty run turn into a wake up (too early) for the entire household ! YIKES .
Breanne on May 14, 2019:
Battling them on my small acreage in the South San Joaquin Valley of California since 1983. Unfortunately, always at the mercy of those less diligent. I have pulled them by hand, mostly, and sometimes even used a shop vac to pick up the evil thorns. Unfortunately, they were well entrenched here when I came. The pool area was carpeted with them. I asked the renters how they could let them grow up like that around the pool and they said "we didn't know what they were". I don't think I would have to know "what they were" to know I didn't want them around. Worst enemy, the Postal truck, that drives at the side of the road in the dirt from house to house, planting them everywhere they go. The thorns can survive for many years in the sandy soil here, and when conditions are right (rain or water after it warms up in May or June) they are back. Try to till the ground and it will lift many to an area where they can easily germinate. Worst of all, they are highly attractive fo fire ants that burrow down the root system of these plants, collect the seeds and store them. Makes them extra fun to dispose of. My sheep do help control them, especially if they get to them before they make thorns. But you have to keep them after them as they don't get the roots and they can then regrow. With the help of the sheep, and keeping the dead grass longer, I have been able to keep them out of the backyard, where there is little traffic, though just on the other side of the fence, they are thick. I have to draw the line at trying to eliminate them from property that isn't mine, like the oil field lot and the easement owned by the water district for a canal that flows around my property.
Spurwing Plover on May 14, 2019:
I have encountred these weeds and know for sure t heir seed with stick to the bottoms of your shoes and don't go barefoot through them
JJ on May 05, 2019:
I saw a comment on this page that said the only the fresh green seed will propagate. This truth is that goatheads can propagate 7-10 years later. They are very hardy, you cannot slack on this invasive species. This article was good and helpful, it encouraged me to keep at it. I am also in Northern Arizona and the last few years I have seen these become and epidemic. I would like to encourage everyone to take this plant to task. I have the challenge of trying to control these on a ranch. They used to be more confined to areas with higher vehicle traffic, but they are spreading to all the remote place now. And that is very disheartening. When my father was a young boy he said that there wasn't a sticker in the whole valley. They always ran around without shoes in the summer time. And now they are in all of our cattle pastures. This year it is my mission to try and get ahead of them.
P Mann on March 25, 2019:
do you know where I can order the puncture vine weevils? I can only find one place and they are out and do not know when they will be able to get any.
Cathy Casey on March 09, 2019:
Don't bring them home. Check the soles of your shoes before you get into your car. they're all over my city, every parking lot, median, you name it.
Dianne on March 06, 2019:
I dislike them so much because of my two dogs and that they cannot run freely on 2 acres.
Skye on November 08, 2018:
I wear galoshes when I'm in my yard around the goatheads. Also after I've pulled, burned and raked up the plants, I get an old sheet and drag it around the yard. Picks up any strays.
dooley on October 24, 2018:
I enjoyed reading your your counter attack on them but disagree with the vinegar and epson salt tried it twice ,they just started to fold up and came back with no damage.I have been told that they came over with the sheep in the 1800s I am trying to find the country they came from and see how they handle it.Good Luck
Liz on October 18, 2018:
As a registered nurse I highly encourage you to remove the advice of using alcohol or peroxide for wound cleaning as these steps have been found to be a catalyst for infections.
Weedkilla on October 05, 2018:
I use a pliers to pull them out. You get a better grip & do not have to worry about the thorns. 99% of the time, you will pull up the root.
Milt Ellis on September 04, 2018:
Do your homework on Roundup. Who is telling us it causes cancer The Lawyers . Go figure .
KBC on August 08, 2018:
I know someone that uses old gas in a pump sprayer & gets them while they're small, they go away fast
Kevin Wade on July 18, 2018:
Sand burrs are different. Sometimes called Grass burrs. They are a grass called Cenchrus. Much harder to kill in lawns because they are grass. Most chemicals that kill them will also kill bermuda grass.
Ingrid Harrison on May 12, 2018:
We had terrible goatheads on our property when we purchased it in '05. I investigated and found http://www.goatheads.com. The little weevils worked perfectly. Female weevils chew into the side of a young (green) puncturevine bur, deposit eggs into the seed and seal it with fecal material. Females may deposit between 250 – 450 eggs. Weevils grubs develop inside the seed and pupate therein. Each seed may produce 1-3 weevils. The life cycle from egg to adult requires about 25 days. Adult weevils may feed on the plant but do not cause appreciable damage to the plant. The number of generations per year depends on the climate. Adults overwinter in plant duff.
John Daniels on April 21, 2018:
Please, for the love of god, stop telling people to use glyphosate. It causes brain cancer.
Duane R on April 20, 2018:
Goat's will eat them, not sure about the roots.
Dan on December 12, 2017:
I moved onto a rural property in Nevada three years ago and have been fighting goat heads ever since! They are so persistent and painful to step on. When I see my dog come limping to me with one paw in the air I know right away that he stepped on one. I have an acre of land and to control them is a huge job that I am not winning. I attack them as soon as I see their flowers, burn them with a torch, etc. but they were here so long before me that the seeds are everywhere and seem impossible to ever get rid of. To use any kind of chemicals would require a major amount of money! Any suggestions?
[email protected] on November 21, 2017:
My contractors mowed my lawn too low and far to many times. The hot dry weather scorched my local lawn grass and the contractor walked the cathead/goathead weeds all through my property from his boots. The seeds were pushed into my bare earth by poor hygiene management by the contractor.
Fiona on October 14, 2017:
Glyphosate is more evil than goatheads.
Lelah Kaufman on October 03, 2017:
They are everywhere, invading my 2 acres and my home! The dog cannot run free because she is attacked by these vicious weeds! Eeeek!
Tom walton on September 30, 2017:
Ive been waring with these evil little monsters for a decade now. If they are really bad you need to start with burner. If you are fighting the long fight i highly recomend a claw hammer and a bucket. Use claw to carefully grab plant at center root and lift. You can grab whole plant and all the evil spawn at same time and deposite in bucket. Takes a few years if you started with bad patch but with persistance you will win. Also a healthy mix of roundup and a little dish soap will kill them if you hit them early. Happy hunting!
Truman Makabe on September 24, 2017:
I have a few large Goathead plants that have no thorns. The reason? We have Desert Iguana lizards that eat the flowers, preventing thorns from forming. I purposely let a few plants grow to observe the lizards, and to see how effective they are. I can find no thorns at all, and the largest plant is over four feet across. The plant is very bushy because the lizards also eat some of the branch tips, effectively "pinching back" the plant to encourage new growth. The lizards will start hibernating soon, though, so the plants will be able to grow thorns. I will pull them up then. I pulled about 50-60 other goathead plants from my yard and saw no thorns at all.
Lisa on September 21, 2017:
Basically saying they can't be controlled
Dena on July 28, 2017:
I've found a weed killer that works like a charm on this evil pernicious plant. It's called Burn Out and its safe around my animals after application. It also seems to last a while.
Jean Cournoyer on May 19, 2017:
I have a bad case of Gateshead at my beach place here in WA I have not tried chemicals yet but did try burning a spot. Thanks for the info.
G. Cloudwalker on May 18, 2017:
The best way I got rid of the NASTY BUGGERS is put on your trusty work boots, Take a stroll around the yard and using the toe of the boot give them a good nudge and out they come root & all some you have to bend and get the root, I did this for several weeks and haven't had any for 15 yrs.
It's good exercise and you discover other things happening in the yard too.
Ann on March 25, 2017:
Before the stickers form, the young goat head leaves are quite edible. So eat free and get rid of these pesky plants at the same time!
Carol Herman on March 24, 2017:
Thank you for the suggestions. By far the best article I have seen to aid in our war against this horrid plant.
Bud Glass on February 18, 2017:
Great and well-written article. Have you ever had any experience with weaviles? I've heard that they kill off the new buds when they come out. They are Goat Heads here in Colorado and they suck.
Lindarae. Tyler on January 08, 2017:
oneil vigue on November 24, 2016:
sand spurs or goathead weeds will also get a bicycle tire flat,if you ride your bicycle in the grass with sand spurs,you will get a flat tire,we live in north florida and i tell my kids and show them how the sand spurs will stick to the rubber tire and go through into the inner tube.
middle of az on September 06, 2016:
The seeds can survive several years in the ground before they sprout. Don't let them grow big enough to produce seeds. I wander around my yard with a hoe and when I see that little yellow flower I attack. I have a lot less then before. The problem is the neighbors don't do anything about them. Each big rain just wash more seeds into my yard.
merrill Johson on August 26, 2016:
A lot of words. Eliminate annual one needs to dig it, burn it, poison it and don't let it go to seed. Seeds lay in the ground viable for many years, and new seed are brought in on the feet and shoes of any thing that walks through, therefore it will take a long time. So often some plants survive to reseed the following year.
Lauren on August 26, 2016:
I'm not sure about the chickens and goats–the dog next door doesn't seem to care that she's walking on the things and has them all stuck in her fur. She even sits on them, without a concern. I'm fighting to keep them out of my yard, pulling everything that comes through the fence.
anymous on August 15, 2016:
Mona on August 03, 2016:
Stepping on a Goathead is just like stepping on a thumb tack!
sandy miller on July 07, 2016:
Ready to buy beautiful house on 5 acres..full of goathead and we want animals. afraid we would t be able to control them and what it will do to chickens and goats. Not sure if good to buy this beautiful home. I also have a dog
Lori Green from Las Vegas on August 05, 2015:
I just pulled one out of my foot. God I hate them.
Rubeida Shaik on May 17, 2015:
Hi there. Wow! And here I thought we only get it in South Africa, Cape Town. Interesting read. My front yard has been left bare due to home improvements some time now. However we just scoop up the weeds every time we see them surfacing. The yard is all clean until i walk with my flip flops and before i enter my home I look under my soles and it's fully loaded with these devil thorns. There's no other way but to remove it individually off my flip flops cussing as I do
Jennifer Mugrage from Columbus, Ohio on April 15, 2015:
Thanks for this post. It made me laugh. Happily, I will not have to follow any of the advice now, since we live in a non-goat-head area . but I remember those days. Ouch. Stepping on one really is like stepping on a tack.
jhowerton on March 28, 2015:
we have those little devil's in northern California . my garden is over run with them 30 ft x 30 ft , it's a lot for one person to deal with. We have ben fighting them for 3 years with very little results. and yes they can have little purple flowers cuse ours do.
L Olson (author) from Northern Arizona on September 24, 2014:
LK on September 23, 2014:
I've found a new tool for grasping them way down low to the ground to pull them out – Lawn Jaws, sold on Amazon.
I'm in Phoenix and have desert landscaping, so large gravel areas. To find the goathead burrs to eliminate them in the gravel , I walk around the yard in soft flip flops. They will embed themselves in the soles, and I pull them out and repeat.
L Olson (author) from Northern Arizona on July 22, 2014:
@irwinmomm: I will have to check that out! Thanks for the tip!
irwinmomm on July 20, 2014:
I hae been doing battle with these things ever since I bought tis place from my parens estate. I did discover while working in New Mexico that Fertiloam puts out a dry pre-emergent call Avert. I had never seen it in Colorado. It cannot be found at the big box stores– Find a small farmer type feed store that carries Fertiloam products. Its doesn't rid you of the goathead stickers but it keeps them from germinating. Wish I had bought several bags and you can be when I get back thru N M I will stock up–I does work.
L Olson (author) from Northern Arizona on April 26, 2014:
@becky-roberts-520: Goat heads can have either color, yellow or purple.
L Olson (author) from Northern Arizona on April 26, 2014:
@becky-roberts-520: Yes, goat heads can have purple flowers. I have both in my yard.
becky-roberts-520 on April 26, 2014:
Hello Everyone, Here's my dilemma/ I have a patch of what I thought were goat heads growing in our yard/mixed in with the grass. A 4ft. x10ft. patch. The leaves look identical to goat heads but what we have has purple flowers, not yellow flowers. Do goat heads have more than one color of flower? I am in process of getting rid of them now before they get out of hand. Any help, suggestions would much be appreciated. Thanks so much
becky-roberts-520 on April 26, 2014:
Hello everyone, Maybe someone could help me. I have what I thought were goat heads growing in our yard. First time. Their massively taking over, about a 4ft. x 10ft patch. Here's the issue I'm having now though. As of today I don't actually know if what we have are goat heads. The leaves look identical to the goat heads but they have purple flowers not yellow flowers. From all the photos that I have seen of goat heads they have yellow flowers, not purple flowers. If someone can help me identity what I have I would very much appreciate it. Thank you
tonyleather on February 02, 2014:
Some excellent suggestions here!
mel-kav on October 18, 2013:
I have never heard of the goat head weed. And I think I would like it to stay that way. Best wishes in your battle – may you come out victorious!
L Olson (author) from Northern Arizona on August 04, 2013:
@Gloriousconfusion: You are most fortunate not to have lived in an area with them!
Diana Grant from United Kingdom on August 04, 2013:
I love gardening, and have written about it on lots of lenses, but I've never heard of goat headweed before
L Olson (author) from Northern Arizona on June 28, 2013:
@lesliesinclair: Well, you can be environmentally friendly by using the propane burner combined with a lot of hard work in pulling them up by the roots, one by one. However, for those like me with thousands of them in my yard, that isn't very realistic if you want to avoid the damage they do.
lesliesinclair on June 28, 2013:
Yikes! Never had the displeasure of encountering this weed. I'd say it's pretty noxious. From the title I guessed that it was a play on words, and that the solution was going to be an environmentally friendly one — using goats to chomp them away.
L Olson (author) from Northern Arizona on June 21, 2013:
@tvyps: The goat head weed is very sneaky. You may not think you have them in your yard, but beware, if they are close by, they will find a way to your property. Even if a thorn falls off your pet, it can grow where it falls.
Teri Villars from Phoenix, Arizona on June 21, 2013:
Funny, you commented on my lens that had a goat tree in it and now, I am commenting on your goat head lens, ha! My pets bring these things in the house, not sure where they are coming from, I don't have them in the yard. They always end up in my bare feet. These are the most painful things; the pain relates to a needle stick and the bottom of the foot is one of the most sensitive areas of the body.
Scott A McCray on June 06, 2013:
Man – I'm glad we don't have those! I thought some of our weeds were bad. ouch!
Cynthia Haltom from Diamondhead on June 02, 2013:
I haven't heard of this weed before, it is a very self-protected species with those spears on it. Where I live we have many hard to maintain weeds with thorns and the grow prolifically and cannot be controlled since the climate here is always warm and moist.
E L Seaton from Virginia on May 30, 2013:
Me thinks this blood letting pest has found safe haven here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is sad to see what this pest can do. A great big COUNTRYLUTHIER thumbs up for these eradication tips. and. may the goat head pest never darken your days again, ever, ever ever!
James Jordan from Burbank, CA on May 20, 2013:
I remember these from growing up in Idaho. Used to get them when I was out exploring. What I have now is an equally hideous invader the MORNING GLORY! I think I have finally eliminated it from my yard. The neighbor behind is the same we are united in our hate of it. But now the guy next to us just doesn't care! Fun to hear that we all have our nemesis (es?) (nemesi?)
ChristyZ on April 29, 2013:
This lens is hilarious, you're a great writer! Thankfully I'm only at war with an aggressive group of dandelions:)
L Olson (author) from Northern Arizona on April 26, 2013:
@Craftypicks: You got that right!
Lori Green from Las Vegas on April 26, 2013:
I don't have them on my property growing but we certainly have them in the area and I have stepped on them once too many times. OUCH. I understand why they grow thorns to protect themselves but it's just out and out mean shedding them the way they do.
LadyDuck on April 04, 2013:
Fortunately here we do not have goat heds. It seems really hard to get rid of them. Very good lens.
L Olson (author) from Northern Arizona on April 03, 2013:
@lionmom100: Oh, I hate those runner grasses too! However, I have to keep them to choke out the goat head weed! The battle never ends!
lionmom100 on April 03, 2013:
At first I thought I had not heard of this weed, being here in the Pacific Northwest, but then it dawned on me that I think I came across it when I lived in So Cal. Nasty little things. I had to laugh at the descriptions of your battles with this devil. But you are fighting a good battle, bring on the big guns (chemicals) when you have to. Now if I could only get rid of this nasty runner borne grass that is snaking its way through my flower beds.
wleon63 on April 01, 2013:
I have never heard of 'Goat Head Weeds, although we do have stinging nettles in the UK [would they be classed as such?>. Anyway, great lens and very in-depth too. From the sounds of it, it seems that this weed is an absolute nightmare to try to destroy. And to me, it also seems that it serves no purpose at all in your garden, other than taking up space.
Takkhis on March 26, 2013:
I have never seen goat head!
Loretta Livingstone from Chilterns, UK. on March 25, 2013:
Oh oh oh! I am NEVER going to emigrate if this is what may face me! I think I would be inclined to take a flame thrower to the entire surrounding areas! You do write well though. Your lenses are a joy to read. Funny, informative and written with great style. May your Goat Head be defeated and your soles stay unpunctured!
anonymous on March 25, 2013:
I wouldn't want to see the goat heads.
It is amazing that you could find this dreadful weed and emerge victorious. Keep it up.
JoshK47 on March 24, 2013:
An excellent resource! Goat heads are definitely not things I want anywhere near me. they are rather awful.
Gardener Don on March 24, 2013:
How refreshing to see someone suggesting the use or chemical weed sprays. Too often these days it's the opposite.
You are spot on with the line: "But, used properly, and chosen carefully, it's a very helpful weapon in fighting this scourge"
vanderwick on March 24, 2013:
im searching for goat and landing to your lens, 🙂
anonymous on March 24, 2013:
Never heard them called "goat heads", here in Florida they're known as "sand spurs", and they are what prevent us from "frolicking barefoot through the grass". I love your wit – "the nasty little buggers propagate like randy rabbits," – how descriptive.