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According to several reviews [19,58,67], rush skeletonweed is thought to have originated in the submontane region surrounding the Caspian Sea, where the genus Chondrilla is most diverse. From there it spread to the Mediterranean region and central Europe. Its "native range" extends from western Europe and north Africa to central Asia .
Rush skeletonweed was first reported in Australia in 1918. The heaviest infestations were initially in the cereal growing area of New South Wales and Victoria, and later spread into western Australia .
Rush skeletonweed was apparently introduced to North America in contaminated plant material, contaminated seed, or with animal fodder or bedding . Rush skeletonweed established in eastern North America around 1872. It occurs in Ontario, Michigan, Indiana, and from New York to Virginia . It is reported from 1 county in Georgia . Rush skeletonweed was first reported in Washington in 1938, but may have established as long as 30 years prior to that report . It was first reported in California in 1965 [58,63]. Over time it has become widespread and locally dense in rangelands, wheat growing areas, and along transportation corridors, in parts of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia [18,30,58,74,80]. Estimates of the extent of rush skeletonweed infestation in North America range from 6.2 million acres (2.5 million ha) of rangeland in the Pacific Northwest and California , to around 8.4 million acres (3.4 million ha) of crop and rangeland in the U.S. . State distribution of rush skeletonweed in the United States can also be viewed at Plants database.
The following lists include North American ecosystems, habitats, and forest and range cover types in which rush skeletonweed is known or thought to be invasive, as well as some that may be invaded by rush skeletonweed following disturbances in which vegetation is killed and/or removed and/or soil disturbed (e.g. cultivation, logging, fire, grazing, herbicide application, flooding). These lists are not necessarily exhaustive. More information is needed regarding incidents and examples of particular ecosystems and plant communities where rush skeletonweed is invasive.