Salsola tragus [Amaranthaceae]

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Scientific Name Salsola tragus USDA PLANTS Symbol
Common Name Russian Thistle, Tumbleweed ITIS Taxonomic Serial No.
Family Amaranthaceae (Amaranth) SEINet
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Description Habitat: Introduced species found in arid to semi-arid regions throughout almost all of the United States; various soil types, especially alkaline and saline soils in disturbed areas.
Plant: Highly variable; erect annual, many branched to a rounded appearance, from less than 3 to 6 feet tall depending on conditions; opposite stems often with red-purple striations; soft foliage when immature becoming stiff with sharp prickly spines.
Leaves: Green stem leaves mostly alternate, filiform or narrowly-linear, 0.6 to 2 inches long and ending in a sharp spine.
Inflorescence: Open spike with solitary or clusters of 2 to 3 inconspicuous, greenish to cream flowers; 5-lobed flowers are small, ~1/4-inch across or less with 3 to 5 stamens and a short style with 2 stigma branches; flowers subtended by a single long bract and two shorter bracteoles, all three rigid and sharply tipped.
Bloom Period: July to October.
References: Southwest Desert Flora, Flora of North America, USDA Plant Guide, and Jepson Herbarium.
BONAP Distribution Map

Texas Status:

© Tom Lebsack 2022