This Pesky West Texas Plant Could Make You Some Cash
To begin, we need to clear up one thing: yes, Virginia, tumbleweeds really DO exist. They're not the product of some wild-eyed Golden Age Western filmmaker; nor are they some urban legend your native Texan friends feed you in jest.
And for much of West Texas history, they've terrorized landscapers, farmers, ranchers, drivers, and anybody with seasonal allergies by tumbling themselves into every wire fence and corner thanks to the wind.
if you've been personally plagued by these rolling balls of barbed greenery, you may be able to squeeze financial compensation out of them — thanks to platforms like Etsy and Facebook Marketplace.
Against all odds and some hipsters' better judgment, tumbleweeds have now become a staple in bohemian-Southwestern-adjacent decor. Arlo + Iris (above), out of Austin, has built an entire small business out of the gathering, preserving, assembling, and shipping tumbleweed chandeliers online, and landed in Texas Monthly in the process.
Whether you hang them from the ceiling, fasten them to a wall, or set them on an entrance table like a sculpture, there's a chance you can make upwards of $2,000 per weed. (This Etsy listing for a tumbleweed chandelier is a pretty good indication of these prickly inconveniences' earning potential.)
If you didn't know, tumbleweeds are the dead stems and branches of Russian thistle plants that dry up and roll across the plains in order to propagate their seeds. They're considered a noxious (unwanted) weed because of their invasive nature and the rate that they took over the American West in the 1870s. Tumbleweeds are regarded as a fire hazard to open land, mechanical equipment, animals, and buildings because they're so dry.
As someone whose primary chore in her youth was to gather tumbleweeds and cram them into a stock trailer for "removal," I applaud the entrepreneurship but won't be partaking in the venture myself.
If you do choose to make your fortune in the pesky tumbleweeds, remember to protect yourself with long sleeves and gloves, and coat them down in a fire retardant for safety purposes... just be careful not to mash them up in a FedEx box.