This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol5-6", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
The habitat of the plant is muddy seashores, salt-marshes, maritime and inland, it being abundant and often social. The habit is ascending to erect. The root is slender. The stems are herbaceous, leafless, the joints succulent, compressed, thickened upwards, notched, all the branches flowering, spindle-shaped. The plant is bright green. The inter-nodes are contracted above and below, the lower woody, slender, the upper fleshy. The flowering internodes are in short spikes. The flowering spikes are tapering, blunt, cylindrical, each spike has 8-16 flowering segments. The flowers are nearly equal in size, 3, the centre one two-thirds the way up the segment, with 1 stamen as a rule, or with a secondary rudimentary one, and if there are two they ripen successively. The styles project. The fruiting perianth is narrowly winged at the top. The seed is egg-shaped or oblong, green, with curled hairs. The plant is 6-18 in. high, flowering in August and September, and is a herbaceous annual.
Salicomia europcea. L. (forma stricta, Moss. = S. stricta, Dum.). - The habitat of this plant is erect. The stem is erect, much-branched, vigorous, the branches in clusters, the terminal spikes usually very long. The spikes are cylindrical, 2-3 in. long. The plant is always green in colour. The plant is a herbaceous annual.
This plant is polymorphic in colour, size, and branching. The colour is apple-green or grass-green to dingy red and crimson. It is usually much-branched (hence ramosissima), even bushy, but less branched and branchless forms occur. It is 30 mm. in height. The vegetative segments are about 10 mm., rarely 20 mm. long. The terminal flowering spikes are not so long as in S. europcea, not more than 5-10 mm. long, acute, tapering, with 4-6 flowering segments. The spikes are rather lance-shaped. The central flower is about twice as large as the lateral ones, reaching two-thirds the way up the segment. It has two stamens. The plant is a herbaceous annual.
The habitat of this plant is salt-marshes. The plant is very small (hence pusilla). The colour is grey-green, and the plant does not exceed 12 cm. in height. It is branched when full-grown, with curved, graceful branches, but it is sometimes less so, as in the type specimens. The vegetative segments are 6-10 mm. long. The terminal flowering spikes are short (5-10 mm.), with few flowers (2-4), which are globular. The lateral flowers are only one-third as large as the central one, which reaches two-thirds up the segment. The seed has spirally-coiled hairs, which differ from those of other annual species in not being crozier-shaped. The plant is 2-6 in. high, and is a herbaceous annual.
The habitat of this plant is salt-marshes. The plant, which maybe regarded as the type, differs from 5. pusilla only in having much longer and redder spikes. The plant is a herbaceous annual.