Puncture Vine
Goat's Head

Tribulus terrestris

Puncture Vine, Tribulus terrestris, in Kenya, photo © by Michael Plagens

Photographed in coastal Kenya near Mombasa, Kenya. January 2012.

flower of Tribulus terestris, photo © Michael Plagens The seeds of this plant are its claim to fame. The developing fruit in the photo will soon split apart into several sections each shaped like a tetrahedron and tipped on the corners by strong, sharp points. Bicycle tires and feet are often impaled resulting in damage or injury. At a new location the seeds are dislodged and thereby distributed far and wide. The flowers are small and yellow with five petals. The leaves are pinnately compound and are hairy. The vine-like, herbaceous plants creep along the ground spreading out a meter or more when growing in ideal conditions.

This plant is native to the African continent, but has been introduced to tropical and subtropical regions globally. Prevalence of Tribulus in disturbed habitats is enhanced by its toxicity to livestock.

Zygophyllaceae -- Calthrop Family

More Information:

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created on 26 October 2012.