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Report an Invasive Species

Camelthorn

Camelthorn

Camelthorn

(Alhagi maurorum)

Priority: -  Prevent

Tags: Agricultural | Medicinal | EDRR

Identification and Reproduction

Identification: 

  • Camelthorn is a perennial shrub that ranges from 0.6-0.9 m tall. 

  • It bears sharp yellow spines that can be as long as 5 cm. 
  • This plant also has leaves that are alternately arranged, small and lanceolate. 

  • Produces small pea-like flowers that are brown or dark maroon. Blooms occur from June through August. 
  • Seedpods are segmented and are constricted between each individual seed, tapering to a point. 

Reproduction: 

  • Is able to reproduce vegetatively but also seeds. 
  • Seedpods will shatter and releast half-moon shaped seeds, these seeds are easily dispersed by water. 
  • It is a very aggressive colonizer with its creeping roots constantly expanding outwards. 
  • Camelthorn is a deep rooted plant that develops a very extensive rhizomatous root system. 
  • Roots can penetrate upto 2 m deep and over 12 m in length. 

Habitat & Ecology

  • Camelthorn will invade dry, agricultural areas and riverbanks.
  • This plant is also very hardy and tends to persist through drought, high temperatures, frost, sandstorms and changes in salinity. 
  • Currently this plant has been listed as a high risk species in Canada and has not yet established. 

Impacts

Social: 

  • The deep and widespread root system makes the plant very difficult to control especially in crop ranges. 
  • It out-competes crops for both nutrients and water. 
  • Impalatable to livestock. 
  • Camelthorn seeds tends to mix and contaminate alfalfa crop seeds. 

Ecological: 

  • Its deep roots are able to reach water tables up to 2 m deep. In shallow or arid environments this may be problematic as there is potential to exhaust the water supply. 
  • If a dense thicket establishes it will prevent animal mobility. 

Management

Prevention is a high priority for this plant. 

  • Research has been shown that mechanical and manual control is difficult because of the thorns and is ineffective. 
  • Use clean, high-quality seed mixtures that are certified. 
  • Since camelthron has yet to establish in BC, it is currently listed as an Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) invasive species and being closely monitored. 
  • If you think you have seen this plant pease report it

Resources

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has performed a Plant Pest Risk Assessment for Camelthron, download here

For more historical background on camelthorn check out the Invasive Species Compendium datasheet on Alhagi maurorum (camelthorn) here

Header photo (Umm Bab)