Russian salttree [Halimodendron halodendron (L.) Voss][Bayer code: none][CDFA list: A] Photographs Map of Distribution

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GENERAL DESCRIPTION:Deciduous thorny shrubs, spreading or erect, to 3 m tall. Plants colonize sites by producing new shoots from lateral roots. Introduced from southeastern Russia and southwestern Asia as an ornamental shrub.

SEEDLINGS:No information available.

MATURE PLANT:Branched from the base. Leaves compound, evenly pinnate, typically with 4 leaflets, sometimes with 2 or 6 leaftlets, clustered on short spurs. Leaflets obovate to oblanceolate with minutely pointed tips (long-acuminate). Branch tips modified into thorns. Stipules modified into short spines.

ROOTS and UNDERGROUND STRUCTURES:Roots penetrate soil deeply. Lateral roots produce adventitious shoots. Roots associate with nitrogen fixing bacteria.

FLOWERS:Flowers pea-like, red-purple to white with pale purple, 15-18 mm long, with 2-4 clustered on short spurs. Length of sepal lobes much shorter than the length of the fused sepal tube (calyx). Stamens 10, with 9 filaments fused into a tube.

FRUITS and SEEDS:Pods inflated, not constricted between seeds, woody, +/- oblong, 1.5-3 cm long, about 1 cm wide, on a stalk 2-4 mm long, turning black at maturity and opening slowly to release a few seeds.

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HABITAT:Cultivated and nearby sites, such as roadsides. Grows on the steppes and in sandy soils near the ocean in its native habitat. Tolerates saline soils.

DISTRIBUTION:At publication time, previous infestations in the Central Valley (UC Davis Arboretum, Kern County Park) and central South Coast (Los Angeles basin) have been eradicated. To 200 m (656 ft).

PROPAGATION/PHENOLOGY:Reproduces by seed and vegetatively from roots.

MANAGEMENT FAVORING/DISCOURAGING SURVIVAL:Shrubs cut to the ground re-grow from roots.

SIMILAR SPECIES:Unlike Russian salttree, camelthorn [Alhagi pseudalhagi (M. Bieb.) Desv.] has simple leaves, thorns in the leaf axils, and reddish pods constricted between seeds. Pods break apart between seeds, but do no open to release seeds. In addition, camelthorn typically infests arid agricultural lands and riverbanks in the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts, and southeast of the Sierra Nevada (Inyo Co.), to 500 m (1650 ft).

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Prevention and control: Russian salttree is a perennial, spiny, shrub native to Russia. It is an excellent colonizer of semiarid, waste areas, and has been utilized in surface mining reclamation projects in other states. There are no known infestations in California, as previous eradication efforts at three locations were successful. The aggressive, colonizing ability of this species is similar to camelthorn (Alhagi camelorum), and any new infestations should be eradicated as rapidly as possible.
Russian salttree plants produce numerous seed pods that have been considered good forage for livestock. Little is known in regards to the seed biology of this species. However, seeds of a similar species, camelthorn, retain viability following excretion by animals and may remain dormant for many years. Russian salttree seeds may exhibit similar characteristics. Any new infestations should be monitored for seedling emergence for several years. Livestock should be removed from the site before seed pods are produced.
Russian salttree may also spread vegetatively. New plants arise from adventitious buds on deep, lateral roots. It is nearly impossible to hand dig and remove this type of root system, and regeneration from severed roots will likely occur. Shoots may be repeatedly removed by cutting or mowing.
There is no available literature regarding chemical control of Russian salttree. Spot treatments of systemic, nonselective, herbicides such as glyphosate will control plant shoots and possibly kill some roots. Regrowth is likely from well established root systems. Other broadleaf herbicides such as triclopyr, 2,4-D, and dicamba may provide similar results. Cut stump treatments with glyphosate, imazapyr, or triclopyr may also control Russian salttree. Refer to the herbicide labels for allowable application rates and precautions.

Howard, G.S., G.E. Schuman, and F. Rauzi. 1977. Growth of selected plants on Wyoming
surface-mined soils and flyash. Journal of Range Management 30:306-310

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