As summer comes to a close, millions of vicious seeds throughout northern Nevada will soon be drying — if they haven’t started already — and eagerly attack the soles of your shoes, puncture your bike tires, cause mouth damage to grazing animals, and pierce your poochie’s paws.
At least it can seem that way. Tribulus terrestris, an annual plant in the caltrop family, goes by many names — including goat’s-head, cat’s-head, devil’s eyelashes, devil’s-thorn, devil’s-weed, as well as puncture vine — and its overabundant seeds can be a painful nuisance.
But this is your time to strike back. Although one might admire its tenacity, here in Nevada puncture vine is classified as a noxious weed. Limiting its spread helps reduce competition for water and nutrients so that native species can better thrive. And, from a biking-around-town perspective, thinning areas where puncture vine is getting too full of itself may help avoid an untimely flat.
That’s why Muscle Powered, in conjunction with Carson City Parks, Recreation and Open Space (CPROS), is inviting volunteers to join the Great Puncture Vine Pull from now through Sept. 30 to support Virtual Bike Month.
“Puncture vine is an annual plant, meaning that it has a relatively short root system,” said Lyndsey Boyer, Senior Natural Resource Specialist with CPROS, when asked for a plan of attack. “It also grows in a ‘mat’ on the ground, spreading out from a single point. Volunteers can hand pull (with gloves!), use tools like a hula hoe or shovel, or even use a knife or something similar to find the center of the plant and sever the root. If the plant is large enough, it can almost be rolled up like a carpet.”
According to Boyer, volunteers should remember to clear their shoes of any seeds before moving onto another site or to their home, or they will spread the plants around. For heavy infestations, the seeds may remain on site after removing the vegetation – it could be worth raking the site as well and scooping up as many of the seeds as possible. She recommends this extra step only if a particularly large ‘mat’ is removed.
The most critical areas of infestation are along Linear Ditch Trail; the Wellington Crescent on the V&T Trail (the paved section between Ash Canyon Rd. and Van Patten that goes behind Western Nevada College); Mexican Ditch Trail, particularly between Hells Bells and Carson River Road; Fairview Path, especially on the northern portion of the path closest to Butti; and the multi-use trails along Hwy. 50 in both directions, said Boyer. She added that reducing puncture vine’s presence anywhere will help. Participants are suggested to observe social distancing measures and/or wear masks, to stay in small or family groups, and to factor in heat and air quality when selecting what time of day to go Pull.
And by the way…September will be Muscle Powered’s Virtual Bike Month! Stay tuned to our Facebook page and Instagram for VBM updates and to share your Pull photos, where you Pulled, and your puncture vine horror stories. #greatpuncturevinepull #musclepoweredvirtualbikemonth #musclepowered2020bikemonth
8/31/20 – Correction: Lyndsey Boyer’s position was reported as Senior Natural Resource Specialist with Carson City Parks, Recreation and Open Space; she is actually the Open Space Manager.