Russian Thistle • Salsola tragus
Conditions: Allergic rhinitis; allergic asthma; allergic conjuctivitis.
Symptoms: Itchy, stuffy, or runny nose; post-nasal drip; sneezing; itchy, red or watery eyes; asthmatic symptoms.
Physical description: Oval to round bushy plant with numerous slender ascending stems that become woody at maturity; stems vary from 8-36 inches in length and have reddish to purplish stripes; leaves may have sharp points; single flowers lacking petals; commonly known as the “tumbleweed”.
Environmental factors: Found in areas where the soil has been disturbed, such as along highways and fence lines; vacant lots, fields, vegetable crops, and poorly tended landscapes; common along beaches and sandy shores as well; well adapted to California’s climate of winter rainfall and summer drought.
Cross-reactivity: Lamb’s quarter; lolium; orange; ragweed; tomato
- “Thistle.”Merriam-Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thistle
- Young, Frank L. “Russian Thistle (Salsola iberica) Growth and Development in Wheat (Triticum aestivum)” Weed Science 34, (1986): 901-905
- “Russian Thistle.” University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources. http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7486.html
- “Pollen Allergy.” ACAAI. http://acaai.org/allergies/types/pollen-allergy
- Lakhani, Nina, and Anne K. Ellis. “Update on the prevalence of allergic sensitization to Russian thistle in South-eastern Ontario: a retrospective chart review.” Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology 7, no. Suppl 2 (2011). doi:10.1186/1710-1492-7-s2-a19
- Russian thistle. The Great Basin and Invasive Weeds. https://www.usu.edu/weeds/plant_species/weedspecies/russianthis.html
Did You Know?
Russian thistle saved the beef cattle industry during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s when no other feed was available for starving animals.