Tumbleweed Cannoli

Cannoli are great Italian desserts with a fried pastry shell stuffed full of yummy filling but down in the bootheel of New Mexico there are not available, so we make do without.  In terms of landscape restoration though, the idea of a cannoli translates to another use for tumbleweed.  Tumbleweed is used in garlands on the Painted Pony Resort for arroyo stabilization and has been adapted for use in topsoil restoration barriers.  One of the problems with using annual grasses in topsoil barriers is their light weight.  With a wind storm the grasses become dislodged and move reducing the efficiency of the barrier.  But by wrapping the annual grasses, Amaranth and other weeds in a shell of tumbleweed the mass is heavier and stays put.  The natural stickiness of tumbleweed stems makes them ideal for wrapping the lighter grasses and weeds.   Below are 3 photographs of the process used to create tumbleweed cannoli.  Flattened tumbleweed is filled with annual grasses and then rolled allowing the tumbleweed shell to hold to itself.  The finished cannoli is then placed on the landscape as a barrier to catch sediment and create microhabitat for new grasses the next year.  It is similar in design to using rolled hay barriers but costs nothing in materials since everything is off the landscape.  Another example of using products of the land to heal the land and restore the landscape.

Flattened tumbleweed as the cannoli shell.

Annual grasses and amaranth as the cannoli filling.

A 5' long rolled tumbleweed cannoli ready for placement.


  1. Cannoli! Wow! a flash from the past! Now I want some! The real dessert kind.....................
    Well they do use the word lasagna to describe the waste landfills' layers but golly, cannoli grabbed me by the taste buds!

  2. I was out in the sun working on the weeds when the idea came to me, hungry and thirsty, I wonder where my mind was. I showed the idea to some folks from the Chiricahua National Monument and they took lots of pictures and video of the cannoli used as topsoil restoration barriers and arroyo stabilizers.

  3. ah, sunstroke cannoli hallucinations! all I need is my sweet tooth to have a cannoli craving!

  4. You nailed it on the head, sunstroke induced cannoli hallucinations.