Secrets of the world's most successful tumbleweed farm

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.


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4.  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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