Vascular Plants of the Gila Wilderness

Presented in Association with the
Western New Mexico University Department of Natural Sciences

Salsola tragus Linnaeus
(Tumbleweed, Russian Thistle)

Family: Amaranthaceae

Status: Exotic

Salsola australis R. Brown
Salsola kali (Linnaeus) var. tenuifolia Moquin-Tandon
Salsola iberica (Sennen & Pau) Botschantzev ex Czerepanov
Salsola pestifer A. Nelson

Salsola tragus is the well-known and undesirable tumbleweed. It is spiny to the touch and has inconspicous terminal and axillary flowers. It is widespread on roadsides and in disturbed areas. It can be seen in large numbers in the fall piled up against fencelines. The tumbling habit is presumably an adaptation to aid in seed dispersal.
Please click on an image for a larger file.

Salsola tragus, detail of end of stem, photo Russ Kleinman, Burro Mtns., US 180 near WD Ranch Road, Oct. 5, 2007

Salsola tragus, 2x field macro of flower, photo Russ Kleinman, Pinos Altos Range, Pinos Altos, July 25, 2009

Salsola tragus, plants acting as their own dispersal mechanism, photo Russ Kleinman, Hwy 211 near Gila, October 29, 2009

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