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Ada County Takes On Pesky "Goat Heads"

Goathead Thorn Spike Flat Tire
Adam Cotterell
Boise State Public Radio

It's that time of year, time for the puncture vine plant to grow. The invasive weed and its spiny seed pods, known as goat heads, are a bane to bare feet and the scourge of cyclists. Just ask Mike Wieser, a mechanic at George’s Cycles in downtown Boise.

On the desk at the shop there’s a jar of thorns that have popped tires. It’s just for educational purposes. Wieser says they could fill two of them on a Saturday.

“Over the weekend we do a lot of flat repairs, upwards of 30 to 35 tires in a day. Almost entirely because of puncture vines," he says. "I’d say close to 95 to 98 percent of our flat tires are due to puncture vines.”

Wieser says he’s happy to change your flat or sell you a puncture resistant tire. But Ada County wants your help to get rid of puncture vine.

The county has a phone number for people to report the weed when it grows into a mat-like carpet. Members of the public can also get advice on getting rid of it on their property.

Desiree Keeney with the county’s weed abatement program says even though puncture vine grows most from June to August, you can pick up the thorns year round.

“It’s something we, we know we will never eradicate but we would like to contain it and keep the distribution of the population to a minimum as much as possible," Keeney says. 

She also notes, puncture vine seeds are viable for 20 years. She says the noxious weed grows in most of the United States but in other parts of the country people aren’t even aware of it. Like many a cyclist, puncture vine thrives in southwest Idaho’s dry climate. 

Ada County’s weed control number 577-4646.

Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio