Salsola kali L.
Family: Amaranthaceae
Russian thistle,  more...
Salsola kali image
Herbs, 5-50 cm, papillose to hispid or, occasionally, glabrous. Stems erect to ascending, branched from base; branches arcuate or, occasionally, almost prostrate. Leaves alternate; blade linear, mostly 1-2 mm wide in herbarium specimens, fleshy, usually not swollen at base, apex ± acuminate into rather firm, 1-1.5(-2.2) mm spine. Inflorescences interrupted at maturity, usually 1-flower per axil of bract; bracts alternate, not imbricate at maturity, reflexed, not distinctly swollen at base, apex narrowing into subulate spine. Flowers: bracteoles free or becoming connate and adnate to perianth base; perianth segments with comparatively narrow wing or in lower flowers occasionally wingless (in S. kali subsp. pontica sometimes prominently winged), with weak or firm, acute apex, glabrous; fruiting perianth 4-6(-8) mm diam. 2n = 36.
Chaffy-hispid (rarely glabrous), to 4 dm, with long, prostrate or ascending branches from the base; lvs rather firm, linear subulate, to 3 cm, 1-2 mm wide, reduced upwards and passing into the divergent, spinescent bracts; bracteoles spinescent, longer than the fl, deflexed in fr; sep stiff, with a distinct midvein shortly exserted as a subulate spine-tip, in fr wingless or with a deeply and irregularly cleft or pectinate wing, the whole 4-6(-7) mm wide; embryo closely coiled in several layers; 2n=36. Sea-beaches; Nf. to La., and on the coast of w. Europe.

Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.

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Duration: Annual Nativity: Non-Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Annual 5-50 cm tall, papillose to hispid, occasionally glabrous, stems erect to ascending, branched from base, arcuate, occasionally prostrate. Leaves: Alternate, blade linear, mostly 1-2 mm wide, fleshy, apex acuminate into firm 1-1.5 mm spine. Flowers: Interrupted inflorescence at maturity, usually 1-flower per axil of bract, bracts alternate, not imbricate at maturity, reflexed, not distinctly swolled at base, apex narrowing into subulate spine; bracteoles free or becoming connate and adnate to perianth base; perianth segments with comparatively narrow wing or in lower flowers occasionally wingless. Fruits: Fruiting perianth 4-6 mm diameter. Ecology: Found in disturbed areas. Notes: Widespread agricultural weed, told apart from S. tragus, by the reddish, longitudinal striations in S. tragus. Ethnobotany: Used medicinally against bee stings, smallpox, and for influenza; the seeds were roasted and eaten as were the young sprouts. Etymology: Salsola is from Latin salsus, for salty, and kali which is thought to be a derivation of alkali. Synonyms: None Editor: SBuckley, 2010,