Alhagi maurorum, Camelthorn

Gardens & Landscapes, Invasive Species, Extension Master Gardener November 06, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Invasive Species: Alhagi maurorum, Camelthorn

Camelthorn is an invasive perennial shrub that grows 2 to 3 ft. (0.6 to 0.9 m) tall. The simple, entire leaves are oval to lance shaped and are alternate along the stem. Small, pealike flowers are produced in June to August. These brown to maroon flowers extend from sharp, yellow spines that are 1 to 2 in. (2.5 to 5 cm) in length and located along the rigid branches. Seedpods are constricted between the individual reddish brown to tan seeds and are tipped with small beaks. Camelthorn spreads mainly from rhizomes. Camelthorn is found in arid, agricultural areas and riverbanks of the Western United States, where it has access to water during the growing season. The plant rapidly colonizes an area by producing new plants from its creeping roots. It is native to the Mediterranean region and western Asia and was introduced to the United States in the early 1900s as a contaminant in alfalfa seed. It is listed as a noxious weed in several Western states.

What are invasive species, and why should we be concerned about them? 


Taxonomy: Scientific and Common Names for This Species

Fabales > Fabaceae > Alhagi maurorum Medik.

Synonym(s): none

Alhagi maurorum - USDA PLANTS Profile

Distribution Maps

camelthorn - The reported distribution of this invasive species across the United States (Source: Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States)

Up-to-the-minute distribution maps and why they are important 

Reporting This Invasive Species

What is the best way to report the occurrence of an invasive species? 

How to report an invasive species sighting to EDDMapS - Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System 

EDDMapS - Report an invasive species to EDDMapS.

County Extension Offices - Find your county Extension office on this map provided by USDA.

How to Identify

This invasive species can be identified by looking for the characteristics described in the paragraphs that follow.

Shrub

Camelthorn is a perennial shrub that grows 2 to 3 ft. (0.6 to 0.9 m) tall.

camelthorn   camelthorn  
John M. Randall,, The Nature Conservancy, 
bugwood.org
 Steve Dewey, Utah State University, bugwood.org

Foliage

The simple, entire leaves are oval to lance shaped and are alternate along the stem.

camelthorn camelthorn
Steve Dewey, Utah State University, bugwood.org Steve Dewey, Utah State University, bugwood.org

Flower

Small, pealike flowers are produced in June to August. These brown to maroon flowers extend from sharp, yellow spines that are 1 to 2 in. (2.5 to 5 cm) in length and located along the rigid branches.

camelthorn camelthorn

John M. Randall, The Nature Conservancy,
bugwood.org

John M. Randall, The Nature Conservancy, 
bugwood.org

Fruit

Seedpods are constricted between the individual reddish brown to tan seeds and are tipped with small beaks. Camelthorn spreads mainly from rhizomes.

camelthorn camelthorn
John M. Randall, The Nature Conservancy, bugwood.org Steve Hurst, USDA NRCS PLANTS Database, bugwood.org

 

Native Species That Resemble Camelthorn

Parkinsonia aculeata, Mexican palo-verde - Images at invasive.org

Mexican palo-verde Mexican palo-verde
Joy Viola, Northeastern University, bugwood.org Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia, bugwood.org

 

- Images at invasive.org

   
bugwood.org bugwood.org

 

Additional Images for Camelthorn

camelthorn - Images at invasive.org

Learning Resources for Camelthorn

 

Additional Information, Biology, Control and Management Resources

Control and management recommendations vary according to individual circumstances. Location, habitat, weather, and a variety of other conditions are factors that help determine the best treatment choice. To find the safest and most effective treatment for your situation, consult your state's land-grant institution. If you will use chemicals as part of the control process, always refer to the product label.

United States Land Grant University System - Find your Land Grant University's College of Agriculture, University Cooperative Extension Service, or other related partner on this map provided by USDA.

Plant profiles - California Invasive Plant Council

Invasives Database - TexasInvasives.org

Invasive Species Compendium (Beta) - cabi.org

Encycloweedia: Data Sheets - California Department of Food and Agriculture

Noxious Weed List - Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board


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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.