Russian Thistle

Salsola tragus

Prickly Russian Thistle 5

A mature Russian thistle is a large round prickly annual bush that grows about 3ft wide in its mature state and has shallow roots. Seedlings range between 1in – 2½in and grows upward until mature then grows outward. Mature plants have long needlelike greenish-blue 8-52mm long prickly broadleaves. The thistle has small paper-like white-pale yellow flowers beginning germination and flowering from July through October. Dry Russian thistles are frequently found uprooted during early autumn by the wind and tumble around. The paper-like flowers are easily detached from the dried tumbleweed-bush.

The Russian thistle is an invasive species most commonly found in West and Southwest America transported by Russian settlers to America. Often found on roadsides, waste sites, fields, and loose soil surrounding the Rio Grande Valley. As the tumbleweed tumbles around with the wind, seeds are dispersed and can grow with little water or in shallow soil.

The thistle is a natural food source for livestock. Chewed Russian thistle is used as an herb for bee or wasp stings. Young thistle is used in salads cooked or raw. Russian thistle, due to its abundance, can be a fire hazard as well as hinder traffic when it is dried and broken off from its roots. The thistle is strongly competitive in semi-arid areas. Control and management include manual, chemical and biological control. Two approved insects have been released for use in controlling the thistle: a leaf mining moth and a stem boring moth.

1. Dagnan, Don C. "Russian Thistle." Species Common Name: Russian Thistle (n.d.): n. pag. Weed of the Week. USDA Forest Service, 5 May 2006. Web. 7 Apr. 2016..
2. "ITIS Standard Report Page: Salsola Tragus." ITIS Standard Report Page: Salsola Tragus. ITIS, 4 Apr. 2016. Web. 07 Apr. 2016..
3. "Russian Thistle (salsola Ssp.)." IC IPM Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program. University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources, 25 Apr. 2014. Web. 7 Apr. 2016. .
4. "Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants." Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants. N.p., 23 Jan. 2016. Web. 7 Apr. 2016. .
5. World Book Inc. "Tumbleweed." The World Book Encyclopedia. T ed. Vol. 19. N.p.: World Book, 1987. Print.

Author: Matthew Tyrrell Age: 13

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  3. (c) Forest and Kim Starr, some rights reserved (CC BY),
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  5. Adapted by albuquerqueherbalism from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA),

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Color white, yellow