Tumbleweed – Texas Icon

1877 – Texas Tumbleweed. 

An interesting, intriguing plant eternally associated with Old West Stories and a native plant of Texas.  Well not quite, that may be the common belief but the Russian Thistle, commonly known in the States as the Tumbleweed was first officially reported in the States in 1877.  Until a recent trip with a work colleague I too thought this was a native Texas plant but she pointed out the error of my thinking.  It appears that the plant made its way from Russia to the USA around 1877.  Some unsubstantiated reports claim as early as 1873.

Several species are intrusive outside their native environment. They have encroached into parts of North America where they are officially listed as noxious weeds.  The salt tolerant species is first recorded in Bon Homme COunty in South Dakota in 1877 and probably came in as a stowaway in Flax imported from the Ukraine.  South Dakota proved too dry and far too harsh an environment for the flax but the “Tumbleweed” flourished.

So thank you Jody-Ann for educating me on this misunderstood icon of the old west.

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