Getting acquainted with 'terror of the earth'


Terror of the earth, goat's head sticker, puncture vine (English)

Tríbulo (Spanish)

Tribulus terrestris (genus/species)

Zygophyllaceae (family)

You might think that you don't know Tribulus terrestris, a flat-ground-hugging little plant with yellow flowers and vicious little stickers, but if you have ever stepped on it with bare feet, you will recognize it. When I was a child, these little stickers would make my bicycle tires go flat. Considered a noxious weed, like many of our wonderful medicinal herbs, you will find it growing in disturbed earth like that found on roadsides, in barnyards, in pastures and on playgrounds.

The seed is the important part of this medicinal herb, which contains a steroidal saponin (soapy wax) called protodioscin. Protodioscin increases circulation to the reproductive organs of both men and women. This increase in circulation helps fill the spongy erectile tissues with blood, enhancing both pleasure and function. Protodioscin also seems to enhance the effect of the hormone testosterone that increases libido in both men and women.

Collect Tribulus terrestris when the little goat-headed seeds are fully ripe, but not completely dry. Dry them in the bottom of a brown paper bag away from heat and light, but where there is good air movement.

The most effective way to use Tribulus terrestris is as an extract. This is due to the waxy nature of the protodioscin not being water soluble. Therefore, it does not dissolve well in an herbal tea and it is best to take it in extract form.

Consult your health care practitioner about the use and herbs or supplements, especially if you are taking prescription medication.

Hawley owns Taos Herb Company. For more information, call (575) 758-1991 or visit