Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Forces necessary to initiate dispersal for three tumbleweeds.

Abstract

Although diffuse knapweed, kochia, and Russian thistle are important tumbleweeds of the western United States, environmental factors contributing to their dispersal are not well understood. Bolting rosettes of these species were transplanted to pots and reared in a common garden to determine the affect of postsenescence water on stem strength. There were no differences in stem strength among three water treatments for Russian thistle. Kochia, under moderate water treatment, required more than twice the force to break compared to plants under the zero and high water treatments. In contrast, diffuse knapweed plants under zero water treatment required four to six times greater force to break compared to plants under the moderate and high water treatments. There was a strong difference in diffuse knapweed stem strength between field collection sites that corresponded to observed differences in proportion of plants tumbling. A wind tunnel was used to develop a conversion factor between force and wind velocity. Wind velocities necessary to break diffuse knapweed stems ranged from 16 to 37 m/s (36 to 77 mph).