Introduced to the Unites States In 1873 by Russian immigrants, Russian thistle is a common sight along roadways, corrals, and construction sites in Montana where there is bare, disturbed soil. Informally called “tumbleweed”, the plant breaks off of its stem in the fall and rolls across the landscape spreading seeds. Montana fence lines, corrals and ditches are littered with the woody stems and balls of Russian thistle every winter. Tall, with reddish or purple stems, the Russian thistle does not do well with competition in well managed pastures. Its seed base is short lived, only about a year. It can be managed with herbicides and spring and early summer applications are recommended before the plant becomes mature and woody.