Tumbleweed

(Amaranthus albus)

Tumbleweed

What is tumbleweed?

  • Tumbleweed is a weed of roadsides and waste areas.
  • Tumbleweed is a declared weed in Tasmania under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of tumbleweed are prohibited in Tasmania.

How to identify tumbleweed

  • Tumbleweed is an annual herb (living for one year) with pale green to white stems and growing to 30 to 90 cm high. Clusters of small, greenish flowers are carried in the axils of the leaves (note that other common species of Amaranthus in Tasmania produce flowers in clusters at the end of branches). Seeds germinate in late spring to early summer. Flowering is between mid-summer and autumn, and plants die off in autumn. Tumbleweed can have two flowering events in a season, and a single plant can produce several hundred thousand seeds.
  • Tumbleweed plants grow in a bushy, semi-globular form. At the end of the growing season the plant withers and detaches from its base, and the dried bush is then blown along the ground in a 'tumbling' manner. Seeds can be scattered over wide distances by the tumbling bush.
Tumbleweed tumbleweed
Image top: Tumbleweed plant, © L Rignanese.
Image above left: Tumbleweed leaves closeup, © S Matson.
Image above right: Detached tumbleweed bush, © P Martin II.

Tumbleweed in Tasmania

  • In Tasmania tumbleweed is found mostly in association with railway lines. Tumbleweed has been recorded from the north-west between Forest and Stanley, at Deloraine in the north, at Bridgewater and in the Derwent Valley in the south, and in the Midlands. In Tasmania, all infestations have been associated with railway lines, suggesting seed may have been transported in or on rail cars.
  • Tumbleweed is a serious weed of roadsides and waste areas, crops, and unimproved pasture. Tumbleweed does not appear to invade undisturbed sites.

What is the legal status of tumbleweed in your area?

What you need to do

If you locate tumbleweed anywhere in Tasmania, or if you find a plant that you think could be tumbleweed, immediately contact Biosecurity Tasmania on 03 6165 3777 to report this weed.

Detailed management and control guidelines for tumbleweed can be found in the Tumbleweed Control Guide. Refer also to Herbicides for Tumbleweed Control. For further information see DPIPWE's Weed Links and Resources.

See also
Herbicides for Tumbleweed Control
Statutory Management Plan for Tumbleweed
Weed Links and Resources

Other useful links
Pest Genie
APVMA

Tumbleweed Control Guide

Do

  • Plan your control program, this will save time and money in the long-run;
  • Consider the impact of your control methods on off-target species, especially if herbicides are used;
  • Ensure machinery and equipment is washed down between sites or prior to contractors leaving site;
  • Get in early - For new infestations, eradicate before the plants reach the flowering stage: once plants begin seeding, control becomes more difficult and expensive;
  • Carefully time your use of herbicide for best results (see the Herbicides for Tumbleweed Control link for more information);
  • Coordinate your control program with neighbouring landholders where your weed problem crosses property boundaries;
  • Revisit and regularly inspect the site and ensure follow-up is undertaken;
  • Use a combination of different control methods; and
  • Establish vigorous pasture or crops after removal to reduce re-infestation.

Don't

  • Don't introduce tumbleweed to tumbleweed-free areas (e.g. by failing to wash down machinery and equipment between sites);
  • Don't start your control program without first planning your approach;
  • Don't allow tumbleweed to flower and set seed before treatment;
  • Don't rely on one attempt at removal - follow-up is essential; and
  • Don't rely on just one control method.

Spread of tumbleweed

  • Tumbleweed is spread by seed.
  • Tumbleweed seeds can be scattered over large distances as the dried bush is blown along the ground. Seed can also be spread by birds, contaminated machinery and farm produce.
  • Seed remains viable after ingestion by animals, and can survive high composting temperatures.
  • The seeds are thought to remain viable in the soil for many years, giving rise to a persistent seed bank.

Avoid the introduction of tumbleweed

  • Avoid introducing tumbleweed seed into clean areas, or into areas from which the weed is being eradicated.
  • Implements and vehicles which have been used on infested areas should be thoroughly cleaned before leaving the site.
  • See the Washdown Guidelines for Weed and Disease Control for detailed information on how to wash-down equipment and personnel to reduce the chance of spreading tumbleweed.

Physical removal

  • Areas cleared of tumbleweed should, if possible, be cultivated for pasture or crops.
  • Cultivation of the soil breaks up any tumbleweed roots remaining in the soil and brings root fragments to the surface to dry out.
  • Establishment of vigorous pasture or a crop provides competition with any regrowth of tumbleweed plants and reduces the chance of re-infestation.

Chemical control

Herbicides for Tumbleweed Control

Herbicides for Tumbleweed Control


Important Disclaimer
To the extent permitted by law, the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (including its employees and consultants) excludes all liability to any person for any consequences, including but not limited to all losses, damages, costs, expenses and any other compensation, arising directly or indirectly from using information or material (in part or in whole) contained on this website.


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