My Turn: Year of the goathead

I was in the backyard filling my third five-gallon bucket with goathead plants a few mornings ago when my friend Tish called me to see how my day was going.

I whined about my prickly chore, and she told me, “I think this is the Year of the Goathead.”

I am afraid she’s right.

My well-used copy of Weeds of the West says the spiny fruits of the Puncturevine (Tribulus Terrestris for you Latin scholars) can remain dormant in soil for four to five years, so our very welcome summer rains are hatching a multi-year bumper crop. Portions of my yard positively shine with the deceivingly-cheerful tiny yellow flowers that are poised to grow horns.

My dad used to tell us that his earliest memory was when he visited this country as a toddler and stepped, barefooted, off the train in Elida and onto his first goathead.

This is definitely not the year for barefooted around my place. My gloves are getting a daily workout, too, and when I close my eyes at night, I see those radiating tendrils in my dreams.

My reward? For every plant I pluck, I envision a hundred plants that won’t come up from the tenacious seeds. My fear? For every plant I miss…well, let’s not go there.

Betty Williamson believes only a true optimist would try to have a yard without goatheads. You may reach her at

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