Herbs & Plants

Enchylaena tomentosa

Botanical Name: Enchylaena tomentosa
Family: Amaranthaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales
Genus: Enchylaena
Species: E. tomentosa

Common Names: Barrier saltbush or Ruby saltbush

Enchylaena tomentosa is native toAustralia. It grows on loamy and slightly saline soils by the coast in semi-arid areas. Found in salt marshes and rocky headlands as well as in arid zones inland.

Enchylaena tomentosa grows as a small perennial evergreen shrub, up to a meter in diameter. Leaves are slender and cylindrical growing to 6-15mm long, both leaves and stems are densely covered in woolly hairs. It is a non flowering plant. Fruits form as fleshy berries changing from bright green/yellow to bright red/orange.

The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in saline soils.


Enchylaena tomentosa is highly drought tolerant It has historically been sought after by Indigenous Australians, early settlers and livestock. Nutritional analyze gives the plant a 65% digestibility rating providing grazing species with 14% digestible protein and 6% digestible salt.

Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure. It probably requires a very well-drained soil and a sunny position.

Through seeds – sow spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Prick out the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse, planting out after the last expected frosts. Give some protection for at least their first winter outdoors. It might also be possible to grow the plant as a summer annual, sowing in the spring and planting out the young plants after the last expected frosts. Cuttings.

Edible Uses:
The ripened fruit of E. tomentosa can be picked and eaten raw and is described as being salty-sweet in flavor, being picked by desert Indigenous Australians as a snack food and is still frequently collected today. Indigenous groups of the Macdonell Ranges (central Australia) have been recorded to soak the fruits in water to make a sweetened tea. Charles Sturt on his explorations into the semi-arid interior also recorded harvesting the leaves, which could be eaten as a vegetable after being boiled.

Medicinal Uses:
Enchylaena tomentosa can be used as an antiviral. The diseases that this herb is known to cure are many– Fever, Itching, High Bp, Swelling, Diabetes, Inflammation, Skin Disorders, etc.

Other Uses:
In terms of grazing value “E. tomentosa” is listed as a maintenance feed; as the plant does not provide enough grazing volume to act as a sole foraging source, its drought hardiness allows it to be available in dryer times of the year such as late summer when other palatable and nutritious forage sources are absent.

Known Hazards : The leaves are rich in oxalic acid. Perfectly alright in small quantities, the leaves should not be eaten in large amounts since oxalic acid can bind up the body’s supply of calcium leading to nutritional deficiency. It is oxalic acid that gives foods such as rhubarb their acid flavour. Cooking the leaves will greatly reduce the oxalic acid content. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.