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The tumbleweed Christmas tree in downtown Chandler, Ariz., is shown. (Photo courtesy of the city of Chandler)

PHOENIX -- In the December issue of National Geographic, a Chandler, Ariz., annual holiday tradition is mentioned in an article about tumbleweeds.

According to the city's tourism website, Chandler is the only city in the southwestern U.S. with a tumbleweed tree.

The idea for a tumbleweed tree came in 1957 at the suggestion of Chandler resident Earl Barnum, who had seen a similar one in Indiana made with pine boughs. Today, tumbleweeds are less plentiful within the city's limits, so city workers start collecting them early in the fall.

This year's tree contains nearly 1,000 tumbleweeds attached to a 25-foot wire. The tumbleweeds are sprayed with 25 gallons of white paint, dusted with 65 pounds of glitter and covered with more than 1,000 lights. The tree is on display at the downtown park at Arizona Avenue and Chandler Boulevard.

Tumbleweeds are actually called Russian thistle. The invasive weed is believed to have made it to the U.S. through contaminated flax seed brought by Russian immigrants.

Christina Estes, Reporter

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