Camelthorn2017-07-12T15:37:54+00:00

Camelthorn

Alhagi pseudalhagi
a.k.a Alhagi maurorum Medik.

Keys to Identification

  • Camelthorn is a member of the pea family. Introduced from Asia, it grows in dry or moist soils and can be found along streams and canals. Although it is not yet known to occur in Colorado, it has been found in New Mexico.
  • Camelthorn is a spiny perennial shrub that grows from 1-1/2 to 4 feet tall. The greenish stems have slender spines 1/4 to 1-3/4 inches long. Single leaves are wedge-shaped and alternate. Flowers are small, pea-like, pinkish purple to maroon, occurring on short spine-tipped branches on the upper portion of the plant.

Family

Fabaceae (Pea)

 

USDA Code

ALPS3 – Alhagi pseudoalhagi (Beib.) Desv.
ALMA12 – Alhagi maurorum Medik.

Legal Status

Colorado List A Noxious Weed

Identification

Lifecycle

Perrenial

Growth form

Shrub. 1 1/2-4 ft tall

Flower

Pink (Caryophyllaceae)

Seeds/Fruit

Reddish brown pods are constricted and break apart between the seeds. 5-8 seeds per pod.

Leaves

Simple, small, alternate, leathery. Upper surface is yellow-green with small red dots. Undersides are blue-green and covered with hairs.

Stems

Spiny

Roots

Deep woody roots. Rhizomes may spread up to 40 ft horizontally.

Seedling

Seeds need to be buried under shallow soil or animal manure.

Impacts

Agricultural

Invades hay fields and rangeland reducing forage quantity and quality..

Ecological

May be spread by animals. Forms dense patches which will out-compete native vegetation.

Habitat and Distribution

General requirements

Prefers dry climates. Does best in areas of high fertility. Is deciduous in cold areas.

Distribution

Has been found in over 35 states.

Historical

Native to the Mediterranean region and to Asia. First found in North America around 1915. May have arrived as a contaminant in alfalfa seed.

Biology/Ecology

Mode of reproduction

Reproduces mainly by spreading rhizomes. Each rhizome produces many new shoots that then send down deep woody roots. Also by seed.

Seed production

700-4000 per plant under dry conditions. Lower under moist, shady conditions.

Seed bank

Seeds may last a number of years.

Dispersal

Animals. Spreading rhizomes. Wind and water.

References

USDA, NRCS. 2005. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (http://plants.usda.gov). Data compiled from various sources by Mark W. Skinner. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA

Whitson, T.D.(ed.), L.C. Burrill, S.A. Dewey, D.W. Cudney, B.E. Nelson, R.D. Lee, R. Parker. 9th Edition 2000. Weeds of the West. Western Society of Weed Science, in cooperation with the Western United States Land Grant Universities Cooperative Extension Services, Newark CA.

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