Prickly Russian Thistle
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Prickly Russian Thistle
ative Photo: Prashant Awale
Common name: Prickly Russian Thistle, Blackbush, Buck bush, tumble weed
Botanical name: Salsola kali subsp. tragus    Family: Amaranthaceae (Amaranth family)
Synonyms: Salsola tragus, Salsola kali var. glabra

Prickly Russian Thistle is an annual herb forming a rounded, brambly clump of intricately branched, erect, curving stems growing up to a meter long. The green to red stems are hairless to hairy. They are lined with rigid, leathery, needle-like, spine-tipped leaves up to 5 cm long. The inflorescence is an interrupted series of white flowers, with one flower and a spiny bract per leaf axil. The flower is surrounded by a disclike array of wide, winged sepals which are whitish to bright pink in color. A large plant can produce 100,000 minute seeds. The plant dries out as the fruits develop, then breaks off at the base of the stem and is carried about by the wind, the dry fruits and seeds dropping off as it rolls. This is the plant's method of seed dispersal. Prickly Russian Thistle is native to Eurasia. In India it is found in Kashmir and Ladakh. Flowering: August-September.

Identification credit: Prashant Awale, Gurcharan Singh
Photographed at Turtuk, Ladakh.
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