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Puncture Vine
Tribulus cistoides (L.) Zygophyllaceae
• Native to tropical America
• Introduced as an ornamental
– Tolerant to salinity and drought
• Used for groundcover in coastal
• Common name from spiny, hard fruits
• Medicinal properties – used in
treating ailments (headaches, etc.)
Distribution & Impacts
• Generally found in southeast Florida
– Generally as a direct escape from cultivation
• Found on dunes, coastal lands, sandy
• Category II Invasive Species – FLEPPC
– Found in medians, yards and landscapes as
a weedy species
– Potential harm to humans and animals
Puncturevine Distribution in Florida
Mature Plant
• Creeping, prostrate
• Spreads through
lateral stem
• Leaves are arranged
• 6 inches long
• Pinnately compound
with 6 to 8 pairs of
elliptic leaflets
• Lack terminal leaflet
Flowers and Fruit
• Flowers are solitary
• Bright yellow, 1.5
inches wide
• 5 petals
• Fruit are spiny, ½ inch
• Spread easily by
machinery, humans
• Dormant for years
1. Limit planting as an ornamental
2. Remove existing plants before seeds
are produced
3. Avoid mowing, other mechanical
operations when plant is fruiting –
spread seed to other areas
1. Alternative landscape plants to
replace puncturevine
2. Programs to educate homeowners
about the problems associated with
this plant and proper identification
3. Maintain good ground cover and
mixture of plant species to reduce
1. There are 2 known biological control
agents available for puncturevine, but
limited distribution
1. Hand pull plants out of moist soil, wear
2. Mowing or cutting is ineffective, as the
plant is prostrate in growth habit, may
actually spread the plant through seed
1. Over-the-top applications of
glyphosate, dicamba or 2,4-D at 1 to
2% solution plus 0.25% surfactant
2. Glyphosate is non-selective and will
damage other plants
3. Dicamba and 2,4-D can be used in
many turf settings – check label
Useful Links
• Floridata Homepage:
• University of Florida Center for Aquatic
and Invasive Plants:
• The Plant Conservation Alliance's Alien
Plant Working Group. Weeds Gone Wild:
Alien Plant Invaders of Natural Areas:
Useful Links
• Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER).
Plant Threats to Pacific Ecosystems:
• USDA Natural Resources Conservation
Service. Plants Database:
• Forest Management of Miami-Dade
• Bureau of Land Management, Oregon
Literature Cited
Langeland, K.A. and K. Craddock Burks.
1998. Identification and Biology of NonNative Plants in Florida's Natural Areas.
IFAS Publication SP 257. University of
Florida, Gainesville. 165 pp