Invasive Plants

Balance in the desert ecosystem is threatened by many invasive plants. Sahara Mustard is perhaps best known, but there are many others that are equally problematic.


Sahara mustard is an invasive non-native weed that is a significant threat to our desert plants and wildflowers. It is also a fire hazard. Use these resources to identify the plant to stop its spread.

Mustard - Brassica tournefortii - detailed photos 

In 2019 MBCA was part of an effort to get Saharan mustard designated as a top priority Target Weed for the Biologic Control Program of USDA-ARS in their 2020-2025 Project Plan. The effort was effective - the details are in this News Update.





Here is a list of other invasive plants found around the Morongo Basin and in the Mojave Desert. Click each one to find a comprehensive guide on how to recognize and fight these invaders.  Many thanks to MBCA board member Pat Flanagan for creating these very helpful guides.

A new invasive threat has appeared in the lower desert, in the Anza Borrego area. While it's apparently not yet found in the Morongo Basin, keep a lookout for Volutaria - "A new and noxious plant (that) threatens Southern California."  Read this brochure from the University of California Cooperative Extension for photos and details. 

In September 2019 the Desert Sun reported the spread of a new hybrid tumbleweed that can grow to six feet tall and weigh 13 pounds, creating a new driving hazard.

stinknet, an invasive plantIn Fall 2020 we've learned that an invasive called Stinknet is beginning to spread in our area. This non-native member of the sunflower family, originally from South Africa, has been seen in Morongo Valley and at the west end of Yucca Valley. It is now in at least eight counties. It is highly invasive here and can even displace Brome grass! Here is a one-page summary about Stinknet provided by Board member Arch McCulloch.

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    USDA Will Research Sahara Mustard Biocontrol

    In April, MBCA submitted a letter in support of the Tubbs Canyon Desert Conservancy in their effort to convince the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) to seek new ways of controlling Saharan mustard. The Conservancy has alerted us of a positive response from the USDA, stating that their upcoming 5-year plan for 2020-2025 will [emphasis added] include studies on identifying and assessing potential biocontrol agents that can be used for Sahara mustard mitigation and eradication." Here is the USDA-ARS letter for full details. (See MBCA's Invasive Plants page for more on Sahara mustard.) 
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    MBCA Supports the Fight Against Sahara Mustard

    MBCA joined Tubb Canyon Desert Conservancy and other groups in urging the United States Department of Agriculture to consider Sahara mustard as a new "weed of interest" in its next five-year plan. The Tubb Canyon group has been involved in a scientific search for a biocontrol agent for Sahara Mustard which drew some USDA interest. MBCA's letter notes the ongoing damage to our "diverse and vital desert ecosystem" due to the proliferation of Sahara mustard. 
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