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Desert Diary


Tumbling tumbleweeds, what could be a better symbol of the desert? A lot of things, unfortunately. Tumbleweeds are not natives, and they especially thrive in areas that man has disturbed.

In addition to "loving" man for giving it so many homes, it also loves the wind. Tumbleweeds produce large amounts of pollen, and the wind carries it to waiting partners. There are also unwilling recipients of this pollen, as many allergy sufferers can attest to. When the seeds form, the wind helps the tumbleweed, once again. The plant breaks off at its base, and it rolls and bounces through the streets, down the arroyos, and across the open desert, dropping seeds with every bump. As these plants are capable of producing hundreds of thousands of seeds, they can spread quickly.

So what is the key to controlling these invading squatters? Perhaps if we stop our relentless destruction of the desert,it will, once again, become strong enough to fend off the attack.
pen and ink

Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Kodi R. Jeffery, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.

thumbnail of young tumbleweeds   thumbnail of last year's tumbleweeds

Clicking on either of the two thumbnail images above will take to a page with full-sized images.



Dimmitt, M. A. 2000. Chenopodiaceae (goosefoot family). Pp. 219-221, in S. J. Phillips and P. W. Comus, eds. A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Press, Tucson, 628 pp.

Web Resources

Purdue University. Technical.