Tumbleweeds tend to collect along roadsides and fences in Orange County, dropping their seeds for the next year. This can lead to some spectacular clusters of car-sized puffballs of plant.

6 or more large, green tumbleweeds by the side of a freeway ramp.
SR-55 off-ramp at Edinger

In a few weeks*, these will dry out, turn brown, and get picked up by the Santa Ana winds. They’ll roll along the road until they hit a fence, or perhaps fetch up against another cluster, and the cycle will start all over again.

* Or possibly already — I took this photo about 3 weeks ago, and with this past week’s heat wave, I wouldn’t be surprised at all.

Just what I always needed! Proving that “you can sell anything on the Internet,” it’s Prairie Tumbleweed Farm [archive.org], purveyor of “organically grown,” “100% Y2K-compliant” tumbleweeds.

It wouldn’t be much use here in Orange County, where all you have to do is pull over to the side of the road at the right time of the year. Maybe in the off-season.

(Via the Daily Sucker. You have been warned.)

Despite what you might believe, tumbleweeds are actually quite common in suburban Southern California. They often grow by the side of the freeway, occasionally getting picked up by the wind and bouncing across cars.

Never is this more noticeable than during the Santa Ana winds, which seasonally sweep out from the desert to the coast, blowing over trees, knocking out power lines, and sending the smog out to sea. (Unfortunately, by the second or third day, all the dust from the desert has taken its place.) The two of us got some great shots from the most recent Santa Anas which hit during the week leading up to Thanksgiving.

Tumbleweed by the side of the road.
A tumbleweed seeks relief at a fire hydrant.

Downed tree in parking lot.
Even a support stake couldn’t keep this tree up.

Tumbleweeds in the *middle* of the road.
Hey! Get off the road! (Yes, tumbleweeds can get that big.)