Russian-thistle

Caryophyllales > Chenopodiaceae > Salsola tragus L.
Synonym(s): prickly Russian thistle

Russian thistle is an annual herb that can grow to 4 ft. (1.2 m) tall. It was introduced into the United States in the mid 1870s, possibly as a contaminant in flax seed. Leaves are alternate and narrow. Upper leaves have a sharp point at the apex and are 1.3-2 in. (3-5 cm) long. Flowering occurs from midsummer to fall, when small, pink to greenish flowers develop from the leaf axils. Each flower is subtended by 3, spine-tipped leaves. After the plant matures it detaches from the root system and tumbles in the wind, spreading seed (like another common name "tumbleweed" suggests).


Identification, Biology, Control and Management Resources

  • Weeds of the Week - USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area, Forest Health Protection

Selected Images from Invasive.org

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Seedling(s);
Utah State University Archive, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
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Seedling(s);
Forest & Kim Starr, U.S. Geological Survey, Bugwood.org
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Plant(s);
Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte, , Bugwood.org
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Feature(s); Stem and foliage
Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte, , Bugwood.org
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Feature(s); Spines
Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte, , Bugwood.org
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Fruit(s); Fruits and seeds
Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org
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Flower(s);
Forest & Kim Starr, U.S. Geological Survey, Bugwood.org
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Flower(s); capsules
Forest & Kim Starr, U.S. Geological Survey, Bugwood.org
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Seed(s); capsules
Forest & Kim Starr, U.S. Geological Survey, Bugwood.org
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Seed(s); capsules
Forest & Kim Starr, U.S. Geological Survey, Bugwood.org
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Plant(s); small plant
Forest & Kim Starr, U.S. Geological Survey, Bugwood.org
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Infestation; infestation
Forest & Kim Starr, U.S. Geological Survey, Bugwood.org
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Plant(s); habit with Puu o Kali in background
Forest & Kim Starr, U.S. Geological Survey, Bugwood.org
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Dispersal; After a plant matures it detaches from the root system and tumbles in the wind, spreading seed.
Forest & Kim Starr, U.S. Geological Survey, Bugwood.org
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Feature(s); Pile-up of "tumbleweeds"
Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte, , Bugwood.org
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Infestation;
Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
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Diagram or Graphic; Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. Illustrated flora of the northern states and Canada. Vol. 2: 25.
USDA PLANTS Database, USDA NRCS PLANTS Database, Bugwood.org
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Invasive Reference(s):

Check Invasive.org for most current lists.
  • California - Noxious Weed Law
  • California - Invasive Plant Inventory
  • Ohio - Noxious Weed Law
  • Texas - Invasive Plant List
  • Invasive Plants: Guide to Identification and the Impacts and Control of Common North American Species
  • Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest
  • Invasive Plant Atlas of the Mid-South


External Links


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