Damascus saltwort [Salsola
damascena Botsch.] or Wormleaf saltwort [Salsola vermiculata
L.] [SASVE][CDFA list: A][Federal Noxious Weed] Photographs
Map of Distribution
saltwort, wormleaf salsola, Salsola vermiculata L. (sensu
lato), Salsola vermiculata ssp. tenuifolia (Boissier)
Botsch., Salsola rigida Pallas var. tenuifolia Boissier,
to about 1 m tall, with inconspicuous flowers and fruits similar
to those of Russian thistle [Salsola tragus L.],
a related noxious weed. Salsola vermiculata sensu lato
is a taxonomically complicated complex of several closely related
subspecies or species. In this treatment, plants in California
are segregated into a distinct species, S. damascena. Damascus
saltwort is listed as a Federal noxious weed because it can
act as an alternate host for the virus that causes curly-top in
sugarbeets, tomatoes, and melons. Introduced from Syria in 1969
an experimental plant for improving the forage of arid rangelands.
linear, fleshy, green. Subsequent foliage usually densely covered
with minute hairs.
PLANT:Foliage typically covered with minute hairs, but sometimes becoming glabrous at maturity. Stems
slender, straight, ascending to erect, woody at the base, branched
throughout. Leaves alternate, 3-9 mm long, oblong to
ovate, with rounded tips. Often there are several reduced
leaves about 1-4 mm long in the axils.
and UNDERGROUND STRUCTURES:Deep taproot and woody root crown that is able to
produce many adventitious buds at the soil surface.
back to top of page
Solitary (rarely 2 or 3) in leaf axils at stem tips. Bracts 1-2,
leaf-like. Petals lacking. Calyx (sepals as a unit) 2-3
mm long. Sepals often pinkish and sparsely covered with minute
hairs, especially at the apex, with fan-shaped wings ~ 2 mm long.
and SEEDS:Utricles (fruiting structures) greenish to gray,
surrounded by persistent sepals, 7-12 mm in diameter (including
sepal wings), 1-seeded, with remnants of the style at the apex.
Seed +/- round, slightly flattened, with a transparent membranous
seedcoat (pericarp) and visible coiled embryo.
rocky slopes, flats, frequently on clay soils
interior South Coast Ranges (Recruit Grade Pass, Temblor Range,
San Luis Obispo Co.; and possibly cw Kern Co.). To 1000 m (3300
by seed. Seeds germinate rapidly
with adequate moisture and cool temperatures (~ 15º C).
FAVORING/DISCOURAGING SURVIVAL:Plants burned to the ground or cut at or below ground
level do not grow back from roots, but plants cut to 1 cm or more
above ground level can resprout from adventitious axillary buds.
Damascus saltwort, Russian thistle [Salsola tragus
L.], spineless thistle [Salsola collina P.S. Pallas],
and barbwire Russian thistle [Salsola paulsenii
Litv.] are summer annuals with thread-like leaves
before maturity, but develop rigid branches and reduced, stiff,
+/- spiny, awl-shaped leaves (or bracts) after flowering.
The main stems typically break off at ground level allowing plants
to tumble under windy conditions. Russian thistle and barbwire
Russian thistle are widespread noxious weeds [CDFA list: C]
in California. Spineless thistle [CDFA list: Q] is currently
unknown in California, but occurs throughout most of the Midwestern
back to top of page