Monday, February 21, 2005
The Yuma Sun is reporting that parts of Arizona are now infested with Sahara mustard (Brassica tournefortii). The dense populations are found mostly along roadsides, and while this itself may not make a huge impact on native plant diversity, the fact that they could lead to massive wildfires could. The fuel load where there is Sahara mustard is much higher than normal, and officials are concerned that a carelessly tossed cigarette butt or match will lead to big problems in Yuma County this season.
Interested readers may also want to check out this article from the Las Vegas Sun about the "Mustard Busters" in Nevada.
I live in Mohave County, Arizona, and the Sahara Mustard coverage is thick, solid, and massive, the desert is blanketed in green from these plants, quite unlike anything we've ever seen here before.
As a side note, my goats, alpaca, and mustangs find it quite tasty. Unfortunately I can't turn them loose to graze on it.
In the summer when they dry up the seed pods turn into little rattles that eventually break open - which happens when people 'pull the weeds' and those seeds will spread and wait again for rains like we're having now and cover the desert again. Might as well get used to them, there's so many of them there's no way they can be exterminated.
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