Chandler, Arizona is a typical southwestern town with one unique exception: It is the home of the tumbleweed Christmas tree. Every year, for over 50 years Chandler has erected a giant Christmas tree entirely of tumbleweeds. The tumbleweeds are arranged on a large conical frame, spray painted white and decorated with lights. If I didn't know that it was made of tumbleweeds I would have been none the wiser. It is remarkably Christmas tree-like which is a good reason to buy these simple shrubs. The tumbleweed Christmas tree lighting is one of the main Christmas festivities in Chandler, Arizona. This year, why not take a cue from the folks in Arizona and make your own southwestern-style Christmas tree?!
Where Can I Find Tumbleweeds?
Tumbleweeds can be found in just about every western movie out there. All kidding aside, they are, in fact, weeds that are found predominantly in the United States and Eurasia. They grow in arid regions and in disturbed soil and just about anywhere else they can. They are usually found in drier climates and require a wind source in order to be formed. The easiest place to look for tumbleweeds is along a fence after a windstorm. They continue rolling until something like a fence gets in their way, preventing them from moving along.
What is a Tumbleweed?
Tumbleweeds occur when the low-lying shrub breaks lose from its base and is carried along by the wind. They are usually from several species of herbaceous plants in the amaranth family (Amaranthaceae). Normally, the tumbleweed is a spherical in shape. They are often a seasonal plant, growing wild in the summer time where when their small seeds are ripe, shrub-like plant, dries out and becomes detached from their base and are blown about by winds. Tumbleweeds are perpetuated by this process, as they scatter a large amount of seeds wherever the wind blows them over the surface of the ground. Tumbleweeds can come from a shrub called the Russian Thistle. The Russian Thistle grows best in arid climates with high mineral concentration.
Tumbleweed Christmas tree materials:
- Wire frame
- Four or more large tumbleweeds for the base or one huge tumbleweed
- Three or more medium tumbleweeds for the mid-section
- Several small tumbleweeds to fill in spaces
- One tiny tumbleweed for the top
- Flame retardant Spray paint (White, Gold and Silver are popular choices)
- Other decorations including glitter
Where Can I Buy Tumbleweeds?
Believe it or not, there are actually tumbleweed farms in the US where you can find various shapes and sizes of the tumbleweed for sale. One of the most well-known of these farms is in Kansas. They call themselves the tumbleweed capital. Undoubtedly, the heavy winds that blow throughout the tornado belt contribute to the abundance of tumbleweeds. Tumbleweeds can be found in specialty shops and online.