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bullhead

noun
a. a low-growing plant (Emex australis) having many hard, sharp, spiny seeds that are extremely painful to step on and which will sometimes even puncture through shoe soles. link
b. one of these seeds. link Compare California puncture weed, caltrop, cat head1, cat's eye1, double-gee, goat's head, three-corner jack.
Contributor's comments: [North Coast Qld informant] May be the same as bindi-eye, etc., in other regions. But these plants grew flat on the ground and produced a large pod the size of a small marble with 3 or 4 thorns protruding out. Very painful to stand on. We also had bindi's which could be of several types of grass burr.

Contributor's comments: Bindiis around Brisbane were a smaller plant than the khaki burr, referred to as bindiis in western Qld. The three cornered burrs in western Qld are bullheads, and are very common. Another bad one out that way is dog burr, also called galvanised burr. Once west of the great divide, prickles are just as common but burrs like bullheads, or goatheads, are everywhere.

Contributor's comments: In "T'ville" (Townsville) we called these types of thing "goat's heads". Used to itch for a while even after they were removed from your foot.
California puncture weed

noun a low-growing plant (Emex australis) having many hard, sharp, spiny seeds that are extremely painful to step on and which will sometimes even puncture through shoe soles. Compare bullhead, caltrop, cat head1, cat's eye1, double-gee, goat's head, three-corner jack.

Contributor's comments: California weed? - three corner jack, please.

Contributor's comments: I grew up in Central SA and Adelaide, lived at Bordertown and Port Lincoln SA. As a Weed Scientist I have noted common names for plants. "Three corner jack" is used for Emex australis in SA (Doublegee in WA). "Californian puncture vine" is used (rarely) on the Riverland areas of SA for Tribulis terrestris. "Caltrop" and "bindii" (bindee) are not used for Emex australis in SA or WA, but these are used for Tribulis spp esp T. terrestris (Caltrop) a different plant to Emex australis. The name is probably used in the Victorian mallee as well for caltrop but never for Exex. Check Parsons and Cuthbertson 1992 Noxious Weeds of Australia for some references (Inkata Press).

Contributor's comments: Where I live, Wentworth, far west NSW, I have never heard this referred to as California puncture weed, just puncture weed. (I'd never heard the term till I moved here about 8 years ago). This seems the commonest usage here but I've also heard it referred to as cats head. Earlier this year (May 2003) a survey of community concerns in Wentworth Shire elicited the following comment under 'Vision' (for the future of Wentworth): 'Free of puncture weeds, crime free'. And how to do it? 'Eradicate weeds constantly, More police presence'. They truly are a real menace, you can't go barefoot even indoors, because they come in with your shoes and get stuck in the carpet, and then in your feet. One plant can produce dozens of burrs and they last for years. They can germinate just lying on the ground surface and they retain their spikes after germination.
caltrop

noun
a. a low-growing plant (Emex australis) having many hard, sharp, spiny seeds that are extremely painful to step on and which will sometimes even puncture through shoe soles. link
b. one of these seeds. link Compare bullhead, California puncture weed, caltrop, cat head1, cat's eye1, double-gee, goat's head.
Contributor's comments: We called them cat's heads growing up in western NSW and were constantly repairing punctures in our bike tyres thanks to them. Mostly referred to caltrop in the Southern Flinders where we live now.

Contributor's comments: I seem to recall that "caltrop" was a medieval anti-horse weapon. Metal multispiked devices that were scattered in large numbers in the path of enemy horseman. Designed to land with one spike always pointing upward to penetrate hooves and disable horses. A very appropriate usage in the Australian context!
cat head1

noun
a. a low-growing plant (Emex australis) having many hard, sharp, spiny seeds that are extremely painful to step on and which will sometimes even puncture through shoe soles. link
b. one of these seeds. link Compare bullhead, California puncture weed, caltrop, cat's eye1, double-gee, goat's head, three-corner jack.

Contributor's comments: I reckon this is NSW equivalent for bindi eye.

Contributor's comments: First heard in Collarenebri, widespread in rural NW NSW, but almost unknown in Sydney.

Contributor's comments: We don't have cat heads here in Geelong, but where I was brought up on a property 110 km north of Ivanhoe N.S.W. we called the burr a cat head.

Contributor's comments: The term cats eye is not used in Peak Hill, but rather the term cathead is used to describe the burr.

Contributor's comments: I agree with the comment from the person from around Parkes. The plant with the horrible 3 pointed stabbing burr has been referred to as a cathead by my friends and I. Reflectors on roads are cat's eyes.

Contributor's comments: I have lived in Eastern NSW all my life and the burr in question has always been known as cathead.

Contributor's comments: Cat's eye - I haven't heard I grew up on the fringe of this area - we called them cat heads - if you look at them they look like a cat's head rather than a cat's eye.

Contributor's comments: In the Hunter region around Maitland, the term "Cathead" is used to describe the burr, not "cat's eye". "Cat's eye" refers to the reflective disks on roadside markers.

Contributor's comments: [These were an] occupational hazard when I was stacking hay bales on the NSW Central Coast in the late 70s. Had not seen one until it stuck into me so assume I brought the word with me from western Sydney/Liverpool which I left in 76.

Contributor's comments: I grew up on a property in Central North NSW (near Moree), my parents were born and bred about an hour East of there (near Warialda) and what you are describing as a cat's eye, we called a cat-head. Hideous things!

Contributor's comments: [New England informant] Bindy-eye was fairly common in the '70's, but has virtually died out. The sharp burrs were called 'cat heads'.

Contributor's comments: I grew up in Western Sydney knowing these as "Three Corners" I have since become aware that they are the same as catheads, and this is the word used where I live now. The Three Corner useage may have been a family peculiarity, as I have rarely if ever heard it outside the family. They prevented me from going barefoot as a child.

Contributor's comments: Where I live, Wentworth, far west NSW, I have never heard this referred to as California puncture weed, just puncture weed. (I'd never heard the term till I moved here about 8 years ago). This seems the commonest usage here but I've also heard it referred to as cats head.

Contributor's comments: We called them cat's heads growing up in western NSW and were constantly repairing punctures in our bike tyres thanks to them. Mostly referred to caltrop in the Southern Flinders where we live now.
cat's eye1

noun
a. a low-growing plant (Emex australis) having many hard, sharp, spiny seeds that are extremely painful to step on and which will sometimes even puncture through shoe soles. link
b. one of these seeds. link Compare bullhead, California puncture weed, caltrop, cat head, double-gee, goat's head, three-corner jack.
Editor's comments: The term 'cat's eyes' for road reflectors in standard English and not a regionalism. Is there anybody who has ever called those pointy burrs that stick painfully into your bare feet a cat's eye?

Contributor's comments: I lived in this region of NSW for the first 20yrs of my life and never heard this expression used this way. To me 'cats eyes' when not attached to a cat refer to the the reflective disks used to show lane and direction divisions in the road. They are called this because they are reflective to headlights just like cat's eyes.

Contributor's comments: I grew up in Sydney in the 1970s and knew of a cat's eye as the operculum of certain sea shells.

Contributor's comments: Growing up in Wagga Wagga in the late 60's - 70's 'cat's eyes' were reflectors used on roads, guideposts etc.

Contributor's comments: Like the second comment, catseyes have always meant the reflective disks on the side of the road.

Contributor's comments: In Tasmania, 'cats eyes' when not attached to a cat refer to the the reflective disks used to show lane and direction divisions in the road. They are called this because they are reflective to headlights just like cat's eyes.

Contributor's comments: In Brisbane the term is used to describe road refectors your other correspondent refers to.
double-gee

noun
a. a low-growing plant (Emex australis) having many hard, sharp, spiny seeds that are extremely painful to step on and which will sometimes even puncture through shoe soles. link
b. one of these seeds. link Compare bullhead, California puncture weed, caltrop, cat head1, cat's eye1, goat's head, three-corner jack. [this word (and the plant itself) came originally to Western Australia in the 19th century from South African; in South African English it was doublejee, from Akrikaans dubbeltjie, from Dutch, where it means, literally, `little double one']

Contributor's comments: Double-gee is a weed that was introduced into WA as food for convicts. I reckon it is called a double-gee because when it goes in you say "Gee!", and when you pull it out, you say "Gee!" again. They are a particularly painful thorn.

Contributor's comments: Double gees are about 5-6mm in diameter with three or four very sharp spikes about 5mm long. Common in agricultural areas of southwest WA. The bottom of your thongs would be covered in them. They are much more annoying to bare feet than burrs that are much softer and have a much greater number of shorter spikes.

Contributor's comments: Called a 'bindi eye' elsewhere: "I trod on a double gee."

Contributor's comments: A sharp prickle found on grass, often get stuck on feet. Have heard them called bindy eyes in other places: "Put your shoes on or you'll have double Gs in your feet."

Contributor's comments: When dried out, a very sharp, hard prickle with long points. Three points so that however it falls it sticks up: "My wife trod on a double gee, because she comes from South Aust she described it as a three cornered jack."
jack sharp

noun
a. a low-growing plant (Emex australis) having many hard, sharp, spiny seeds that are extremely painful to step on and which will sometimes even puncture through shoe soles. link
b. one of these seeds. link Compare bullhead, California puncture weed, caltrop, cat head1, cat's eye1, double-gee, goat's head, three-corner jack.

Contributor's comments: I should add that, in my childhood, my first exposure to "three-corner jack" was whilst staying on a relative's farm near Virginia on the Adelaide Plains. They referred to the seeds as "jack sharps". I later foud out at school (in Adelaide) that they were usually called three-corner jacks. I was reminded of this when an older cousin used "jack-sharp" recently.
three-corner jack

noun
a. a low-growing plant (Emex australis) having many hard, sharp, spiny seeds that are extremely painful to step on and which will sometimes even puncture through shoe soles. link
b. one of these seeds. link Compare bullhead, California puncture weed, caltrop, cat head1, cat's eye1, double-gee, goat's head.

Contributor's comments: Called double-gee in W.A. farming areas.

Contributor's comments: This is a weed with spiny seeds, Botanic name: Emex australis: "The children could not play in the reserve because it was full of three corner jacks."

Contributor's comments: We regularly impaled our bare feet or thongs on three cornered jacks on holiday at Barwon Heads (on west coast in Vic) in the 1960s. They had 3 very hard and sharp points.

Contributor's comments: [Adelaide informant] California weed? - three corner jack, please.

Contributor's comments: I grow up in Central SA and Adelaide, lived at Bordertown and Port Lincoln SA. As a Weed Scientist I have noted common names for plants. Three corner jack is used for Emex australis in SA (Doublegee in WA). Caltrop and bindii (bindee) are not used for Emex australis in SA or WA, but these are used for Tribulis spp esp T. terrestris (Caltrop) a different plant.

Contributor's comments: I grew up in Western Sydney knowing these as "Three Corners" I have since become aware that they are the same as catheads, and this is the word used where I live now. The Three Corner useage may have been a family peculiarity, as I have rarely if ever heard it outside the family. They prevented me from going barefoot as a child.

Contributor's comments: [Wimmera and Mallee informant] A hard prickle with three protruding spikes: "I trod on a three corner Jack."

Contributor's comments: We called them cat's heads growing up in western NSW and were constantly repairing punctures in our bike tyres thanks to them. Mostly referred to caltrop in the Southern Flinders where we live now.

Contributor's comments: I should add that, in my childhood, my first exposure to "three-corner jack" was whilst staying on a relative's farm near Virginia on the Adelaide Plains. They referred to the seeds as "jack sharps". I latyer foud out at school (in Adelaide) that they were usually called three-corner jacks. I was reminded of this when an older cousin used "jack-sharp" recently.

Contributor's comments: I knew these prickles only as three corner jacks in Broken Hill as a child, and have not heard of any of these other names.