War on Weeds: Camelthorn

Richard Old

Max Licher

This weed may invade your land. Be ready to oppose it.

The Enemy: Camelthorn (Alhagi maurorum)

Strategy: This nasty little perennial plant originated from Asia. This short-growing plant is a spiny, heavily branched perennial lined with up to ¾-inch thorns along the stems. Flowers are pealike, pink to maroon and occur along the upper portion of the stem. Seed pods are jointed and curved upward with deep indents. The roots are extensive, digging down up to 4 feet. The plants survive in seasonally dry area such as higher banks of water ways. The plant mostly spreads by seeds, but can have horizontal roots that allow it to grow into large patches.

Attack: This devil of a weed grows in any disturbed area. Due to its nature, it is not grazed by livestock and it is almost impossible to walk through if you are trying to get to your favorite fishing spot. It’s known as a beneficial herb for gastrointestinal issues, but has become a problem in cultivated fields such as alfalfa. Like many rhizomatous plants, constant cultivation only aggravates the issue, thus the problem grows if the weed is found in row-crop type plants.

Defense: Utilizing certified weed-free hay, preventing overgrazing and minimizing ground disturbance will ensure that this and other weeds will not invade. Mechanical control can be useful if only a few weeds exist. There are few insects that will attack this nuisance. Herbicides are generally the best tool. Treating in early spring or in the fall with herbicides such as Milestone at 7 ounces per acre or Chaparral at 3.3 ounces per acre plus a quality surfactant will control the weed but not harm the grasses nor animals in the area. Call your county weed authority for proper identification of this nasty weed.

To learn more, call Bonneville County Weed Superintendent Jeffrey Pettingill at 208-529-1397 or email weeds@co.bonneville.id.us.