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Isn't This a Noxious Weed?


Kochia prostrata is not to be confused with its unruly cousin Kochia scoparia. (See comparison pictures, below.) And, although they both belong to the same family of plant, they exhibit extremes of the spectrum on almost every scale. Kochia scoparia, although used in some portions of the U.S. as a forage and hay producer (they must be hard up for the real thing), in many sections of the intermountain west is considered a noxious weed.

Scoparia is an annual, and when it has completed its life cycle, it will die and break off in the wind and spread its seed everywhere, much like Jim Hill mustard or Russian thistle. Scoparia will not even survive in some of the climates that prostrata calls home. Prostrata is a drought tolerant, long-lived, perennial sub-shrub which remains semi-evergreen at the base: it stays put. The seed that is produced by prostrata has very little mobility in the wind and mostly falls in the general vicinity of the mother plant. Because the mother plant is so highly aggressive for moisture, it does not allow its own seeds or most other annuals in the general vicinity to survive where moisture is a limiting factor.

Kochia prostrata is not rhizomanous; it will not spread by its roots, such as Canada thistle or Knapweed. In short, Kochia prostrata is non-invasive.

Please see the USDA Agricultural Research Service report from nearly two decades of study on this subject.



Click on an image to see a larger picture. Pictures will open in a new window.

SCOPARIA
"weed"

PROSTRATA
"forage"

scoparia as small plant
Seedling stage of Kochia scoparia
prostrata as small plant
Seedling stage of Kochia prostrata
scoparia at mid growth
Elongation at scoparia mid-growth
prostrata at mid growth
Leafy substructure at prostrata mid-growth
scoparia as mature plant
At maturity, scoparia is ready for good wind at 6+ feet
prostrata as mature plant
At maturity, prostrata is 2 feet tall
plant dies and seed spreads
Non-palatable scoparia stick, ready to roll
regrowth after mowing
Early winter regrowth on mowed prostrata


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