Tribulus terrestris L.

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Tribulus terrestris

Photo: Bart Wursten
City centre, Mutare

Tribulus terrestris

Photo: Bart Wursten
City centre, Mutare

Tribulus terrestris

Photo: Bart Wursten
Guvulala Pan, Hwange NP

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Species details: Click on each item to see an explanation of that item (Note: opens a new window)

Common names: Calthrop (English) Devil's eyelashes (English) Devil's thorn (English) Intolofiyane (Ndebele) Isihlabamakhondlwane (Ndebele) Isihoho (Ndebele)
Frequency: Common at middle and lower altitudes
Status: Native
Prostrate annual herb. All parts covered in long whitish hairs. Leaves opposite paripinnate, one leaf in a pair often longer than the other. Peduncle shorter than or as long as, the subtending leaf. Flowers solitary in leaf axils. Petals 3-8(-12) mm, light yellow. Fruit a hard triangular drupe with sharp spines.
Notes: The species is poisonous to livestock. The toxin, a triterpenoid, causes liver damage resulting in photosensitivity (distinctively; unpigmented parts of the skin react to UV light resulting in inflammation leading to swelling etc of particularly the head). This is known to farmers as 'geeldikkop' (yellow-thick-head). Toxicity usually results when livestock (particularly sheep) graze young, wilted plants.
Source: Roy Wakefield
Derivation of specific name: terrestris : growing on the ground, i.e. not epiphytic or aquatic
Habitat: In disturbed areas in grassland.
Altitude range: (metres) 510 - 1400 m
Flowering time:Sep - May
Worldwide distribution: Throughout the world in tropical and warn regions
Zimbabwe distribution: N,W,C,E,S
Growth form(s): Annual.
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species: Zizeeria knysna (Food plant)
Grammodes stolida (Food plant)
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Images last updated: Tuesday 20 June 2006

Heath, A. & Heath, R. (2009). Field Guide to the Plants of Northern Botswana including the Okavango Delta Kew Publishing Page 322. (Includes a picture).

Kirby, G. (2013). Wild Flowers of Southeast Botswana Struik Nature, Cape Town South Africa Page 229. (Includes a picture).

Pickering, H. & Roe, E. (2009). Wild Flowers of the Victoria Falls Area Helen Pickering, London Page 115. (Includes a picture).

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 111.


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Other sources of information about Tribulus terrestris:

Our websites:

Flora of Botswana: Tribulus terrestris
Flora of Caprivi: Tribulus terrestris
Flora of Malawi: Tribulus terrestris
Flora of Mozambique: Tribulus terrestris
Flora of Zambia: Tribulus terrestris

External websites:

African Plant Database: Tribulus terrestris
Biodiversity Explorer (Biodiversity of southern Africa): Tribulus terrestris
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Tribulus terrestris
ePIC (electronic Plant Information Center): Tribulus terrestris
Flora Zambesiaca web site: Tribulus terrestris
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network) taxonomy for plants report for Tribulus terrestris
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Tribulus terrestris
Ispot Southern Africa : Tribulus terrestris
JSTOR Plant Science: Tribulus terrestris
Kew Herbarium catalogue: Tribulus terrestris
Tropicos: Tribulus terrestris
West African Plants database: Tribulus terrestris

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2002-16

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2016). Flora of Zimbabwe: Species information: Tribulus terrestris., retrieved 29 May 2016

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