Monster Tumbleweed: Invasive New Species is Here to Stay

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– A new species of gigantic tumbleweed once predicted to go extinct is not only here to stay — it’s likely to expand its territory, according to UC Riverside.The species, Salsola ryanii, is significantly larger than either of its parent plants, which can grow up to 6 feet tall. A new study from UC Riverside supports the theory that the new tumbleweed grows more vigorously because it is a hybrid with doubled pairs of its parents’ chromosomes.

“Salsola ryanii is a nasty species replacing other nasty species of tumbleweed in the U.S.,” said study co-author Norman Ellstrand, UCR Distinguished Professor of Genetics. Currently, Salsola ryanii has a relatively small but rapidly expanding geographic range. Given its potential for damage, the knowledge now available about Salsola ryanii could be important for helping to suppress it, and Ellstrand believes that is what should happen before it takes over. “An ounce of prevention is a pound of cure,” he said.

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