Puncturevine: An Extinction to Celebrate
Like medieval caltrops, the spiky seeds of the puncturevine or "goatshead" weed stick to soles of shoes, bare feet, animal paws and bicycle tires, causing painful wounds and punctured inner tubes. It grows in parking lots and along trails and roadways at more than a dozen sites in the Methow Valley.
Fortunately, puncturevine hasn’t gained as much of a foothold in the Methow Valley as in the rest of Okanogan County. We can win this fight. Former Methow Conservancy Board Member Dave Sabold and his wife Marilyn have made it their personal challenge to help eradicate this nasty weed. Through careful monitoring they reported this year that the worst infestation, located behind the ball diamond in Winthrop, yielded no plants this summer. Puncturevine has also disappeared from many of the sites recorded twelve years ago, thanks to property owners and volunteers who pull, then carefully gather and dispose of it. A quick chop into the soil just below the crown kills the plant.
Dave says, "We can realistically look forward to the elimination of puncturevine from Carlton to Mazama if we stay on task."
The sprawling plant emerges from a single taproot in summer, quickly spreading into an attractive mat of lacelike greenery with small yellow blossoms. As flowers turn to seed, though, the plant develops its well-known sharp spikes. Dogs and cats freeze like a statue if they wander onto a patch in late summer. Bike riders in other parts of Eastern Washington all have stories of flattened tires.
For some other weeds there’s no hope, but with a little help from friends, we can rid ourselves of this nasty one. For more information on puncturevine or to learn more about other weeds of the Methow Valley, see our online Weed Guide. If you think you see puncturevine, let us know at 509-996-2870 or email us.