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Russian Thistle and Its Ecological Impact, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Russian thistle, also known as “tumbleweed” is a significant invasive plant of the West. The first seeds were accidentally first brought in to South Dakota by Russian immigrants in 1873. It withstands dry weather, therefore, it soon became the most common weed in the drier regions. It is a weed which spread through contaminated seed, and soon it did start ruling the landscape. It is although, interesting that the weed has helped starving kettle during the dry months in the 1930-s. It is well adopted to the California weather; dry summers and rainy winters.

Today, Russian thistle can be found almost anywhere; the roadside, highways and fields. It is exceptionally dangerous for agricultural areas. Its negative effects on agriculture are not only restricted to its spreading through the fields, but also it does provide shelter and source of food for many insects and pests. The size of Russian thistle would also reduce visibility on roads, and as the West of America becomes drier, it can also become a fire hazard. As the plant itself is dry and often grows between trees and can spread flames fast. It is also important to mention that the same plant causes problems on the California Aqueduct, too, where it can cause damage to pumping and water delivery. For humans, the Russian thistle also carries risks of allergies, as the seeds are delivered by the wind. Some people might also develop rashes when they have physical contact with the plant. The pollen causes allergies mostly during summer months.

Today, there is no known effective biological control to manage the spreading of the weed. In agriculture, farmers are advised to destroy young plants on the fields before they would produce seeds.

References

DiTomaso, J. M., and E. A. Healy. (2007) Weeds of California and other Western States. Oakland: Univ. Calif. Agric. Nat. Res. Publ. 3488.

Hickman, J. C., ed. (1993) Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. Berkeley: Univ. Calif.     Press.

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