Russian-thistle USDA PLANTS Symbol: SATR12
U.S. Nativity: Exotic
Habit: Forbs/Herbs
Salsola tragus L.

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Taxonomic Rank: Magnoliopsida: Caryophyllales: Chenopodiaceae
Synonym(s): prickly Russian thistle
Native Range: Africa, temp.& trop. Asia, Europe (GRIN)

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

Selected Images from Invasive.orgView All Images at Invasive.org


Plant(s); habit with Puu o Kali in background
Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, Bugwood.org
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Flower(s); capsules
Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, Bugwood.org
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Flower(s);
Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, 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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Seedling(s);
Utah State University Archive, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
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Seed(s); capsules
Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, Bugwood.org
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Seedling(s);
Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, Bugwood.org
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Plant(s); small plant
Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, Bugwood.org
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Infestation; infestation
Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, Bugwood.org
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Plant(s); 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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EDDMapS Distribution:
This map is incomplete and is based only on current site and county level reports made by experts and records obtained from USDA Plants Database. For more information, visit www.eddmaps.org
 


State(s) Where Reported invasive.
Based on state level agency and organization lists of invasive plants from WeedUS database.

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U.S. National Parks where reported invasive:
Badlands National Park (South Dakota)
Chiricahua National Monument (Arizona)
Death Valley National Park (California)
Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)
Lake Mead National Park (Nevada)
Rocky Mountains National Park (Colorado)
Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota)
Wupatki National Monument (Arizona)
Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)



Invasive Listing Sources:
California Invasive Plant Council
Faith Campbell, 1998
Jil M. Swearingen, Survey of invasive plants occurring on National Park Service lands, 2000-2007
Pacific Northwest Exotic Pest Plant Council, 1998