|Russian Thistle (Salsola australis)|
DESCRIPTION: Also called S. iberica and S. kali. Exotic (from Russia in 1870s) Annual to 4'. Flowers small, whitish, without petals, and they grow at the base of upper leaves. After maturing, the flowers enlarge, dry, and cover small fruit. Leaves age to become awl-shaped and sharp to 2" long. Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot) Family.
NATURAL HISTORY: Flowers bloom May to October. Plant dries into ball that breaks off at base and blows in the wind (tumbleweed), scattering seeds. Although called a thistle, it is not (thistles are in the Compositae/Sunflower family).