Puncturevine is a sprawling annual plant that forms a dense mat with very sharp, spiny seed heads. Also known as goathead, puncturevine has branched stems that can spread up to 6 feet wide, stemming from a single crown. Flowers are small, yellow and have 5 petals. The leaves are hairy, 1-3 inches long, and divided into leaflets, each about 1/4 inch long. The seed head is woody with very sharp spines. Seeds are easily spread by sticking into footwear, vehicle tires and animals. Puncturevine thrives in sunny, dry, rocky locations such as roadsides or gravel parking lots. This plant poses serious problems for recreationalists and agriculturalists alike. The seeds can easily puncture a bike tire, inflatable raft or dog’s paw. Plants are actively producing seeds now and will continue to do so until the first frost.
Puncturevine has been found throughout Hood River county including along the Mosier Twin Tunnels trail, the Hood River waterfront, the Odell industrial area, Eastside Road, Lost Lake Road and along Tucker Road. It has also been found in area orchards where seeds are being spread by tractor tires and other farming activities. If you see it, pull it and please report it to the Oregon Invasives Hotline at www.oregoninvasiveshotline.org or 1-866-INVADER.
Unfortunately, Hood River County does not have the capacity to address infestations of this weed. Landowners should be prepared to address any infestations found on their own property. To remove it, try to get the entire taproot, all of the seeds, bag it and put it in the garbage for landfill disposal. This is one to nip in the bud!