Tribulus terrestris L. Caltrop
Sp.Pl. 1:387 (1753)

Conservation Code: Not threatened
Naturalised Status: Alien to Western Australia
Name Status: Current

Brief Description
Helen Coleman, Thursday 12 November 1998

Prostrate annual, herb, plants villous; leaflet pairs 4-7; cocci with distinct divergent, median spines 3-8 mm long. Fl. yellow, Jan to Dec. Often on sandy soils. Waste places.


Beard’s Provinces: Eremaean Province, Northern Province, South-West Province.

IBRA Regions: Avon Wheatbelt, Carnarvon, Central Kimberley, Central Ranges, Coolgardie, Dampierland, Esperance Plains, Gascoyne, Great Sandy Desert, Great Victoria Desert, Jarrah Forest, Little Sandy Desert, Mallee, Murchison, Nullarbor, Ord Victoria Plain, Pilbara, Swan Coastal Plain, Tanami, Victoria Bonaparte, Yalgoo.

IBRA Subregions: Ashburton, Avon Wheatbelt P1, Avon Wheatbelt P2, Cape Range, Carnegie, Central, Central band, Nullarbor Plain, Chichester, Eastern Goldfield, Eastern Murchison, Edel, Fitzgerald, Fitzroy Trough, Fortescue, Hamersley, Hart, Mackay, Mann-Musgrave Block, Mardabilla, Northern Jarrah Forest, Ord, Ord-Victoria Plains P1, Pentecost, Perth, Pindanland, Rudall, Shield, South Kimberley Interzone, Southern Cross, Southern Jarrah Forest, Tallering, Tanami P1, Trainor, Victoria Bonaparte P1, Western Mallee, Western Murchison, Wooramel.

IMCRA Regions: Bonaparte Gulf, Canning, Kimberley, Leeuwin-Naturaliste.

Local Government Areas (LGAs): Ashburton, Bridgetown-Greenbushes, Broome, Busselton, Carnarvon, Cockburn, Cue, Cunderdin, Derby-West Kimberley, Dundas, East Pilbara, Esperance, Exmouth, Goomalling, Gosnells, Halls Creek, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Kellerberrin, Kulin, Lake Grace, Laverton, Leonora, Melville, Merredin, Mingenew, Moora, Mount Magnet, Mukinbudin, Murchison, Narembeen, Nedlands, Ngaanyatjarraku, Northampton, Perenjori, Perth, Port Hedland, Ravensthorpe, Rockingham, Sandstone, Serpentine-Jarrahdale, South Perth, Swan, Toodyay, Trayning, Wanneroo, Waroona, Wickepin, Wiluna, Wongan-Ballidu, Wyndham-East Kimberley, Yilgarn.

Management Notes (for the Swan NRM Region)
Kate Brown and Karen Bettink, Thursday 21 December 2017

Alternative Names. Cat-head, Bindii, Puncture Vine.

General Biology. Growth form. Herb. Life form. Annual. Reproduction. Seed. Dispersal. Tyres, water, machinery, animals (by adhesion), clothing, footwear, soil movement. Toxicity. Toxic to stock. Seedbank persistence. Several years.

Notes. Can germinate throughout the year particularly anytime following rain. Fruit segments have sharp spines that allow rapid dissemination of seeds. Has allelopathic properties. Dense infestations can dominate other ground flora. An extensive root system allows it to survive droughts and compete effectively for moisture and nutrients. Forms fruit continually throughout the summer and autumn. First flowers may be formed when plants are 3 weeks old and the first fruit at five or six weeks. Declared weed in South Australia. Overseas biological control agents have been used relatively successfully.

Additional information. Origin. The Mediterranean.

Suggested method of management and control. Exclude people and close tracks to stop spread. Hand remove small/isolated populations, pulling plants from the root crown. Apply herbicide to prevent seed set. Glyphosate at 1% is effective on seedlings. On bare tracks diesel can be used to kill plants and penetrate and destroy seed in surface soil. Read the manufacturers' labels and material safety data sheets before using herbicides. For further information consult the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to determine the status of permits for your situation or state.

Management Calendar

Calendar Type Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Comments
Germination Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y  
Active Growth Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y  
Flowering Y Y Y Y Y O O O O O O Y  
Fruiting Y Y Y Y Y O O O O O O Y  
Manual Removal Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y  
Herbicide Treatment                          

Legend: Y = Yes, regularly, O = Occasionally, U = Uncertain, referred by others but not confirmed.



  • Boydston, R.A. (1990) Time of emergence and seed production of long spine sandburr (Cenchrus longispinus) and puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris). Weed Science, 38: 16-21.
  • Brown, K. & Brooks, K. (2002) Bushland Weeds: A Practical Guide to their Management. Environmental Weeds Action Network, Greenwood.
  • Department of Primary Industries, Victoria (2009) Impact Assessment - Caltrop (Tribulus terrestris) in Victoria. The State of Victoria URL: - Accessed July 2010.
  • El-Ghareeb, R.M. (1991) Suppression of annuals by Tribulus terrestris in an abandoned field in the sandy desert of Kuwait. Journal of Vegetation Science, 2: 147-154.
  • Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Dodd, J., Lloyd, S.G. & Cousens, R.D. (2007) Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. 2nd Edition. The Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Victoria Park.
  • Northern and Yorke NRM Board (2009) Caltrop (Tribulus terrestris), NRM Plan Factsheet No.1.016. Government of SA, Crystal Brook, South Australia.
  • Parsons, W.T. & Cuthbertson, E.G. (2001) Noxious weeds of Australia. 2nd Edition. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.

Project information and acknowledgements