Tumbleweeds aren't a type of plant. It's more of a description — the thing that happens when the bushy above-ground parts of lots of different types of plants dry, die, and disconnect from the healthy root system below. It is then free to blow wherever the wind takes it. That's your basic free-range tumbleweed. At Prairie Tumbleweed Farms, the weeds are a bit more constrained and they're shipped, rather than blown, to customers all around the world. This podcast by Rose Eveleth is a cute, quirky piece, but you MUST listen to the whole thing. Because the backstory of Prairie Tumbleweed Farms is what makes this truly worthy of BoingBoing.

8 Responses to “Secrets of the world's most successful tumbleweed farm”

  1. gfish says:

    Now THAT is the genius of the free market at work.

  2. James O'Neill says:


  3. Nash Rambler says:

    I’m telling you, when western movies make their comeback in a big way, the tumbleweed farmer is going to be sitting on a goldmine.  A GOLDMINE PEOPLE.

  4. silkox says:

    When I was a kid, one of our city friends took a couple of tumbleweeds (Salsola tragus, IIRC) home and spray-painted them silver. Did any of us pay attention? We did not.

  5. Lucy Gothro says:

    Russian thistle, I’ve heard it called.

  6. jaytkay says:

    I occasionally find tumbleweeds in my alley in Chicago.

    I didn’t know they were simply dried up plants, I imagined a neighbor had transplanted some exotic invasive western species.

  7. Why can’t I order one?

  8. epinasty says:

     To most listeners, this is a charming and amusing story. However, I kid you not, I am a weed scientist. To me it is very alarming because these weeds drop thousands of seeds as they tumble…or as they get shipped across the country! This could lead to infestations where there were none before. Alas, to fight that is to fight human nature itself. Weeds are a human phenomenon!

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