Tumbleweed, Russian Thistle.
Also known as: Salsola australis, Kali tragus, and Kali australis.
This is an invader from Europe. Reportedly seeds for this plant were mixed in with a shipment of flax seeds from the Ukraine in about 1877, hence the name “Russian Thistle.” It’s not a true thistle either.
In theory the flower has 5 petals, but this is hard for me to see.
Seen blooming in Sept and Oct. Found beside roads and on our coastal mesas.
When I first saw the plant, I assumed this was a flower, but it is, in fact, the dried seed. The flower is tiny (see above), practically invisible in the cleft.