America’s Tumbleweeds Are Actually Russian Invaders


Some say the tumbleweed’s takeover of the American West was the most aggressive weed invasion in the country’s history.

Today, tumbleweeds are a quintessential part of the American West, appearing in Western movies, songs and traditions. But the tumbleweed, like many of the people who live out West, are not descendants of true U.S. natives. They arrived as invaders from Russia around 1870 and have been impossible to get rid of since.

The weeds first arrived in Scotland, South Dakota, likely in seed form in a batch of flaxseed imported from Russia. Just 15 years later, the tumbleweed (also called the Russian thistle) had rolled its way to both Canada and California. Since then, stories abound of “tumbleweeds driving ranchers out of their homes through sheer abundance,”.

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