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Another common name for White Amaranth is Tumble Pigweed, or just Tumbleweed. In the Great Plains, this weed is often blown against fences, where it piles up; this is less common in Illinois. White Amaranth can be distinguished from Amaranth spp. (Amaranths) by its white stems and small light green leaves; the foliage has a pale appearance overall. Furthermore, the side stems often develop from the slender central stem at right angles (90°), providing this plant with a rather awkward and angular appearance. Other Amaranths have larger darker leaves and they usually produce terminal spikes of flowers. An exception is Amaranthus blitoides (Prostrate Pigweed), which produces inconspicuous axillary flowers like White Amaranth. However, Prostrate Pigweed has darker leaves and a prostrate or sprawling habit. Two other species that occur along railroads, Kochia scoparia (Kochia) and Salsola tragus (Russian Thistle), are also tumbleweeds with a similar appearance. They tend to be somewhat larger in size than White Amaranth (although not always) and their leaves are linear to lanceolate. Unlike White Amaranth, Russian Thistle is rather prickly, while Kochia has long white hairs near the flowers. They are all members of the Amaranth family.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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