Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tumbleweeds

Tumbleweed (Salsola tragus)
We could not say goodbye to the year without one last nature walk.  Hacking and coughing the kids decided after breakfast to walk down the hill to the park (soft balls and gloves in tote).  Please forgive me, I am not an athlete but a biblioholic.  My kids, well, let's just say they need a lot more practice in the athletic areas as well.  I'll give my husband (the more athletic one) credit; he is trying.

Object: protect your face not hide your face ; )
After a few rounds of catch and just before heading back up the hill, the kids found their nature interest.  We've seriously never paid much attention to these other than seeing them roll around like feathers on the road sometimes.  There have been some high winds lately, so naturally we've noticed them quiet a bit when driving around the last few days.  The kids immediately walked over to them and began close up inspections. 


They were eager to see where the plant came off, how it felt, was it really light as a feather, how it rolled, how big were they...
that's my tall five year old behind it
After discerning that we could not roll one home with us, the kids headed back with out a true size sample for the nature table.  When we got back we discovered that you mostly find these on dessert or dry areas; high or strong winds aid in detaching it; it is a dead weed/plant; they are diaspores (seeds/spores get dispersed as they tumble around); and for some places can be big water soakers.  The original plant is mostly likely a Russian Thistle (we'll find out when they are actually living next spring).  Another look at the top of the hill full of them:

 Interesting how even these dry weeds are useful in natural life cycles.  Hmm...winter weeds!?

6 comments:

Charlotte Mason in the City said...

Tumbleweeds seem very exotic to me! I recall seeing them as a kid when my family traveled on road trips. My own kids have never seen them. What a great nature adventure to end one year and bring in the next. Here we go into 2012!

mommyx12 said...

This is a cool thing to do. My kids have seen them before but we've never gotten 'so close' to actually learning about them!

Jedidja said...

I've never seen it before I look to your photo.

Melissa said...

We saw lots of tumbleweeds in Kansas when I was growing up - we don't see them much around here.

Some where recently, I saw where someone put a stake in their yard and stacked them up and spray painted them and used them for a snowman!!

I knew that the rolling was for seed distribution but I had never heard of the term diaspore used in that way - it makes sense but I find it fascinating none-the-less.

...they call me mommy... said...

How neat! We would all be so thrilled to see a tumbleweed since we live in the northern mid west. They aren't very prevalent here! ;) We read about them and they seem like some romantic cowboy/western type plant! :)

amy in peru said...

fun! we've been having a hard time with nature walks/study motivation while we live in a tiny apartment... your pictures remind me of how wonderful it is to live somewhere you can roam around!!

:)

amy in peru

ps. thanks for your visit!