Selected Plants of Navajo Rangelands

Take care of our Navajo Rangelands

Kochia
Ch’il nilt’ǫlí
(a.k.a. Kochia scoparia)

Stem showing small yellow flowers and narrow leaves

Kochia, native to southern and eastern Russia, was introduced to North America from Europe. Plants growing on dry or infertile sites typically average two feet tall. The leaves are generally green but change to yellow, red, and brown as the plant ages and dies. Dead plants break off at the base and are blown by the wind as tumbleweeds that scatter seeds.

Kochia and common ragweed look very similar from a distance, and the two sometimes occur together. Because kochia is extremely efficient at using water, it can thrive in warm, low rainfall environments. The plants have a wide tolerance of soil types and are often found on saline/alkaline soils. Plants grow on grasslands, pastures, prairies, roadsides, ditch banks, wastelands, floodplains, riparian habitats, and cultivated fields.

Kochia is readily grazed by livestock, but sometimes contains high nitrate levels and can be toxic.

Growth habit, which is low but possesses abundant foliage
Individual stem showing foliage arrangement and elongated leaf shape
At certain stages of growth, flowers are surrounded by hairy leaves and bracts
Early growth habit, just a few inches tall
Early growth habit, just a few inches tall

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