CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Charles Guthals recommends monosodium methyl arsenate, a herbicide known as MSMA, for getting rid of grassburs. Grassbur is a summer grassy weed that is adapted to dry, sandy soils.
By Eric Butler: Freedom New Mexico
Stickers, sticker burs, grass spurs, sticky burs, sand burs — whatever the name, a common opinion prevails in regards to a little weed whose seed has a plate of armor no one wants to get near.
Many in eastern New Mexico just call them stickers and they’re literally a pain in the, well, wherever you happen to get stuck.
“Oh yeah, my boyfriend does landscaping and he drags them in all the time,” said Portales resident Adrya Garner, 21, when asked if she’s been stuck during the current late-summer season.
While there are many different common appellations for the weed, the technical name is a sand bur. In New Mexico, botanist Kelly Allred takes time out from his professorial duties at New Mexico State University to write handbooks describing various flora.
When it comes to the sand bur, Allred has identified three kinds indigenous to the state: the southern sand bur, the common sand bur and the long spine sand bur.
The common variety is called that for a good reason — it’s found throughout the state. The southern is common to Dona Ana county and the long spine variety, among other places, is actually identified as being in Roosevelt County, but not in Curry.
Residents such as Garner and her friend Shalali Williams, 19, may not be that astute about the specific differences between the burs. But they were quick to point out that a goat head is technically a different kind of weed.
“Goat heads have those two little spikes coming out of it. Well, kind of like a goat’s head,” Williams said.
Most people don’t care much what the correct title is, they just want them out of their shoelaces, the bottom of their jeans, their basketballs, tennis balls, etc…
According to Stan Jones, extension agent for Curry County, the best way to keep the stickers away is by keeping a yard well kept and he suggests a possible application of MSMA weed killer.
“It’s a grass weed actually. The burs are actually the seed and, if you leave them there for next year, instead of one you’re going to have seven or eight the next year,” Jones said. “If they’re in a grass setting, you can use MSMA. It’s a selective grass herbicide and you just spray that and it’ll take care of grass spurs before they seed.”
Not everybody hates the little weeds.
At least one children’s author, John Lechner, has written something called “The Wonderful World of Sticky Burr.” He actually urges prospective readers to “meet Sticky Burr and his unshakable friends.”
Most parents, however, would just assume keep the burs away from their kids.
“With the little ones and their swingset, we have to make sure that area is clear of them,” said Clovis’ Melissa Ulibarri, who has a 3-year-old daughter and an 8-month old son.