Salsola tragus

Salsola tragus_Russian thistle_Bob Case_cropped
Photo: Bob Case

Synonyms: Salsola australis, S. iberica, S. kali var. tenuifolia, S. kali ssp. ruthenica, S. kali ssp. tenuifolia, S. kali ssp. tragus, S. pestifera, S. ruthenica.

Common names: Russian thistle; common saltwort; prickly Russian thistle; Russian tumbleweed; tumbleweed; tumbling weed; windwitch; witchweed; prickly glasswort

Salsola tragus (Russian-thistle) is a large, bushy summer annual (family Chenopodiaceae). It can be found throughout California, including in agricultural areas, desert, roadsides and other disturbed areas. Russian-thistle can impede traffic, create fire hazards, and is a host of the beet leaf-hopper, an agricultural insect pest.

Cal-IPC Rating: Limited?

CDFA Rating: C*?


Plant Assessment Form - Information gathered by Cal-IPC on the impacts, rate of spread, and distribution of invasive plants in California. Does not include management information.

Special Reports

Pest Notes on Russian Thistle (From the University of California's Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program)

Weed Management Notes

  • Management Notes - Information on management techniques and effectiveness from the University of California Cooperative Extension’s Weed Research & Information Center.

Cal-IPC Newsletter Articles

Cal-IPC Symposium Presentations

Presentations are linked where available. Where a presentation is not available, find more information by reading the abstract in the Cal-IPC Symposia Archive.

Other Salsola tragus Information

  • CalPhotos - Images of plants taken mostly in California.
  • Calflora - Distribution map and records of this species in California.
  • CalWeedMapper - Distribution map of this species in California with ability to determine regional priorities.
  • EDDMapS - Distribution of this species in North America.
  • Jepson Interchange - Information on this plant's taxonomy, biology, and distribution from UC Berkeley's Jepson Herbarium.
  • USDA PLANTS Database - Information on identification and distribution, with links to websites in individual states.
  • Additional photos

    Salsola tragus_Russian thistle_JM DiTomaso_cropped
    Salsola tragus (Russian thistle) leaves and stem. Photo: JM DiTomaso
    Salsola tragus_flower_RonVanderhoff
    Salsola tragus (Russian thistle) flower. Photo: Ron Vanderhoff