tumbleweed


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tumbleweed,

any of several plants, particularly abundant in prairie and steppe regions, that commonly break from their roots at maturity and, drying into a rounded tangle of light, stiff branches, roll before the wind, covering long distances and scattering seed as they go. The Russian thistle—Salsola tragus or Kali tragus of the family Chenopodiaceae (goosefootgoosefoot,
common name for the genus Chenopodium, as well as for the goosefoot family, Chenopodiaceae, a family of widely distributed shrubs and herbs that includes the beet, spinach, and mangel-wurzel.
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 family) and not a thistle—is one of the most frequent of the tumbleweeds. Naturalized from Asia, it has become a troublesome pest on Western prairies, although in drought years it may serve as forage in the spring before the spines form. Other Salsola species are also tumbleweeds. Some other common tumbleweeds, such as Amaranthus albus or A. graecizans, are members of the family Amaranthaceae (amaranthamaranth
[Gr.,=unfading], common name for the Amaranthaceae (also commonly known as the pigweed family), a family of herbs, trees, and vines of warm regions, especially in the Americas and Africa.
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 family), naturalized from tropical America and now common weed pests in Western agricultural fields. Others are the hedge mustards (species of Sisymbrium) and several other plants of the goosefoot family, e.g., the winged pigweeds (Cycloloma) and the bugseeds (Corispermum). Tumbleweeds of the family Chenopodiaceae and Amaranthaceae are classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Magnoliopsida, order Caryophyllales.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tumbleweed

 

any one of several herbaceous plants growing in the steppes and deserts that, during seed ripening and, occasionally, earlier, form a globose mass. The stems break rather easily at the base, and the entire mass, when blown by the wind, rolls across the land, distributing its seeds over large distances. Tumbleweeds vary in diameter from a few cm to 1 m. They include annuals (rose of Jericho), biennials (a species of Falcaria of the family Umbelliferae), and perennials (several onion species of the family Liliaceae and several species of the genus Limonium of the family Plumbaginaceae).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

tumbleweed

[′təm·bəl‚wēd]
(botany)
Any of various plants that break loose from their roots in autumn and are driven by the wind in rolling masses over the ground.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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