Tribulus terrestris (fruit). Location: Maui, K...

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September is the season for flat bike tires as the goathead (Tribulus terrestris) fruits mature and find their way to bike paths and bike lanes. After suffering flats for the past several years, I’d thought from time to time about going on patrol with a hoe, but hadn’t actually done more than grumble. Sonoma County  Regional Parks maintenance crew did manage an early herbicide application on the Rodota Trail despite budget cuts, but I could see the telltale rosettes and tiny yellow flowers lurking along a couple of stretches in Santa Rosa. I  had snagged a large empty plastic bag I spotted caught in a bush along the trail and filled it in mid-August when I was out my son, then didn’t manage to get back to until last week. Although the fruits were nearly mature and should have been hunted down sooner, I’ve so far collected roughly 150 lbs. of goatheads over three more stints on my home from work, along with a broken spoke from carrying them on my bike, a flat from running my bike off the edge of the pavement and numerous quizzical stares from passersby (one man asked if they were good to eat). I keep thinking I’ve found them all when I spot more.  A big vacuum cleaner would help, too, so I could suck up the mature seeds that are already littering the ground (some undoubtedly left from previous seasons) — if I could figure out a way to leave the gravel and other objects behind…

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