Botanical Name: Salsola Kali
Species: S. kali
Common Names: Prickly Glasswort, Russian thistle, Prickly saltwort or Prickly Russian thistle,
Habitat: Salsola Kali is native to Russia and Siberia. It grows in Coastal Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to N. Africa, Asia and N. AmericaIt is found in disturbed areas such as roadsides, trails, abandoned fields, along streams and lakes, and over-grazed ranges and pastures. (Non-saline sandy beaches, avoiding acid soils. It is usually found on dry soils)
Young leaves and stems – raw or cooked. An excellent food with a crunchy tender texture. The leaves can be used as a spinach substitute or added in small quantities to salads. Seed – cooked. It can be ground into a meal and used as a gruel, thickener in soups etc or added to cereal flours when making bread etc. The seed is small and hard to collect any quantity.
The Prickly Glasswort (Salsola Kali, Linn.) has a thick, round, brittle stem, with few, rigid leaves of a bluish-green colour and small, yellow flowers.
Prevalence in the semi-desert range of western states is due to its drought tolerance and long-distance method of seed dispersal…….CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
Mature plants grow 31-152 cm high and are bushy, dense annuals. Young plants have stems with red or purple stripes. The 1.3 – 6.4 cm long leaves are alternate, thread-like, cylindrical or awl-shaped with pointed tips. The flowers are solitary, small and greenish to white in color and lack petals. Papery spine-tipped bracts are present at the base of each flower. Russian thistle typically blooms from July to October. However, this plant is indeterminate and continues to flower and produce seed until temperatures drop below -3.9° C.
Cathartic; Diuretic; Emmenagogue; Stimulant; Vermifuge.
The juice of the fresh plant is an excellent diuretic. The seedpods can also be used. Salsolin, one of the constituents of the plant, has been used to regulate the blood pressure. It is said to resemble papaverine in its effect on vasoconstriction and hydrastine in its effect on the smooth muscles of the uterus. Reported to be cathartic, diuretic, emmenagogue, stimulant, and vermifuge, the plant is a folk remedy for dropsy and excrescences.
The juice of the fresh plant was said to be an excellent diuretic, the twisted seed-vessels having the same virtue and being given in infusion.
Biomass; Cleanser; Potash.
The ashes of the burnt plant are used for making glass and soap. At one time large quantities of the ashes were imported into Britain for this purpose, but nowadays a chemical process using salt is employed. The ashes can also be used as a cleaner for fabrics. As a low-water-use plant, germinating quickly on minimally disturbed soils, and relatively free of diseases and parasites, this has been suggested as a fuel source for arid lands. Yields of around 3 tonnes per hectare of plant material have been achieved.
Known Hazards: The plant contains up to 5% oxalic acid, so it should only be used in moderation. Oxalic acid can lock up certain of the nutrients in food and, if eaten in excess, can lead to nutritional deficiencies. It is, however, perfectly safe in small amounts and its acid taste adds a nice flavour to salads. Cooking the plant will reduce the quantity of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones and hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition