To Our Ojai Community:

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we recover from the damage from the Thomas Fire on our trails. In the coming months trails will likely open and close depending on rain and changing trail conditions. Click here for current information and trail notifications »

The Russians Are Coming

First of all, don’t panic.  I will need your full attention so please close all other browsers windows.

I am here to get you through this, all is not lost.  But the danger is real, and no, I am not wearing a tin-foil hat as I write this.

The Russians are here, and no I’m not talking about her

The Championships - Wimbledon 2010: Day Eight

Or him

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Or them

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This interloper is far more insidious and far less blonde.  I’ve seen them recently on the Ojai Meadow Preserve, the Ventura River Preserve, and brashly creeping their way down Villanova Road towards my abode.  Those of you with heart conditions may want to avert your eyes… (Cue bad guy entrance music)

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Known to super nerds as Salsola tragus (literally “Salty goat” in Latin and Greek respectively).  Known to partial nerds as Russian Thistle, infamous to the rest of us as tumbleweed.

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A member of the goosefoot family, the plant’s vibrant green branches crisscrossing in a thorny horny matrix can be quite jarring when seen against the 50 shades of brown of Ojai August.

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By late summer these juggernauts can reach six feet high and wide and are covered in these funky pink/grey/brown blooms.

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The whole big mass you see is supported by one single stem, which starts to die in September and by the time Santa Anas pick up in fall these buggers are ready to roll…

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And roll they do, and not just in the quaint, charming Gary Cooper in High Noon showdown sort of way.RB Russians 9

This stuff literally takes out towns. (poor Clovis)

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I know, you’re worked up.  I am too.  Should we just pack up and move to Nome? (sorry, tumbleweed has made it to Alaska too).  Fear not, I have a solution.  No, not that stuff…

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Nah… Looks fun but those fire department guys get a mite tetchy…

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All you need is these:

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Even these will work.

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No not these.. don’t want you to mangle your toes.

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That’s right, a few well-placed blows with the heel of your boot is enough to foil the dastardly villain.  Most specimens I have seen have just started to bloom so this is the perfect time.  Granted, you will look slightly insane standing out on the trail, flailing about as if possessed.  You just tell’em you’re a loyal American doing his or her duty to protect their country.

Be vigilant.

To read more posts from the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy’s Nursery Manager Ron Singer, check out his Ojai Rambler blog »


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