This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
This is quite unrepresented as a maritime species in early deposits. It is found in the North Temperate Zone in Europe, X. and S. Africa, and X. and \Y. Asia, India, X. and S. America, Australia. In Great Britain it does not grow in W. Sussex, S.E. Yorks, Renfrew, Mid Ebudes, W. Ross, W. Sunderland, the Orkneys, and the Shetlands. It ranges from Caithness to the south coast, and is found in Ireland and the Channel Islands.
Saltwort is a maritime species, a typical salt-lover, on which account indeed it is used commercially to obtain salt, and is found on all the sandy coasts of Great Britain, growing in the same habitats as Sea Blite. Samphire, and many other true salt-lovers, abounding in salt and yielding alkali, whence the Latin, Arabic, and English names.
Saltwort is a spreading or prostrate plant, with hairy, limp, or fleshy stems. The leaves are awl-shaped, bluntly terminated with a sharp point, spinous, hairy, sub-cylindrical. The stem is finely furrowed, branched, wavy, angular, and rigid.
The flowers are small, single, pink, inconspicuous, with the winged appendages of the calyx spreading, scarious, or with a membranous margin, rose-coloured. The bracts or learlike organs are 3. spinous. The segments of the perianth are as long as the appendages. The flowers are axillary, the seeds are brown, and adhere to the membranous pericarp.
The plant is 6 in. to 1 ft. high. It flowers in July and August. Saltwort is annual, propagated by seeds.
The plant is dichogamous, the anthers and stigma ripening at different times. The stamens, 3-5, are hypogynous, the ovary superior, the anther-stalks linear. The style is elongate, and the stigmas attenuate. The plant is pollinated by the wind or is self-pollinated.
Photo. Messrs. Flatters & Garnett - Saltwort (Salsola Kali, L.)
The anthers and stigma may ripen together, or the latter first. Pollen may be carried about by creeping insects.
The fruit is a utricle, is enclosed in a winged calyx, and may be dispersed mainly by the wind.
The plant is a salt-lover addicted to saline soil, and is also a sand plant flourishing in sand soil.
Three moths, the Sand Dart (Agrotis ripae), Coast Dart (A. cursoria), and Gymnancyla canella, and a Heteropterous insect, Orthotylus rubidus, infest it.
Salsola, Caesalpinus, is from the Latin sal or salsus, salt, from the abundance of alkali yielded by its ashes, and kali is an Arabic word for the ashes of the saltwort or the glasswort, or for the plants themselves.
Saltwort is called Eestrige, Prickly Glasswort, Kelpwort, Sowd-wort, Sea Thrift. The name Prickly Glasswort is bestowed on it from its prickly nature, and because it was used for the manufacture of barilla for glass-making.
Essential Specific Characters: 266. Salsola Kali, L. - Stem prostrate, branched, leaves rough, spinous, subulate, with prickles at the extremity, flowers axillary, with 3 bracts at the base.