The bane of western cyclists — puncture vine — is coming under full-fledged attack in Idaho.
The non-native weed is also known as goathead, ground bur-nut, caltrop, Texas sandbur, and f*#%ing things, as in, “One of those f*#%ing things just flatted my bike tire!”
The seed forms a spiked pod (above) that sits on the ground waiting for its next bicycling victim. The weed particularly plagues off-road cyclists; the website for the Klickitat Trail in Washington state warns mountain bikers about them. Roadies are not (thanks, Rob) immune, as the seed pod spikes often end up on the pavement. They forced me into Mr. Tuffy tire liners in California and Texas.
A website dedicated to their eradication, goatheads.com, says the weed probably was introduced in the wool of sheep. It was first reported in California in 1903 and now causes serious problems in that state, as well as Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, and Texas.
The Idaho Statesman reports that Roger Batt, who works for the Idaho Weed Awareness Campaign, will enlist weed killers in every county to attack goatheads next spring.
There are many ways to eradicate the weed, which has no natural enemies in the arid West. There’s pulling (you can buy special gloves for this exercise), burning, and poisoning with pesticide. Roak TenEyck, the webmaster at goatheads.com, sells so-called seed weevils and stem weevils that eat the plant or seeds. A release of 250 weevils (such a box costs $75) is recommended per acre.
TenEyck also reminds us of the proper name for the noxious weed: “It’s goatheads with an ‘S’, because there’s never just one.”