Salsola australis R.Br. - Russian Thistle (Potash Plant)

Systematic position.

Family Chenopodiaceae, genus Salsola L.


Salsola ruthenica Ilijin, Salsola pestifera Nels., Salsola iberica Sennen et Pau.

Biological group.

Annual plant.

Morphology and biology.

Plant 10-100 cm high, strongly ramified from the base, somewhat rigid, glabrous or rough; overhead part spherical or semispherical. Leaves alternate, semi-cylindrical, thorny, sessile; bracts shorter, strongly widened at base, with robust aciculae. Flowers bisexual, located by one in a leaf axil with two thorny bracts, aggregated in spike-shaped inflorescences. Perianth glabrous, five-lobed, with filmy obtuse lobes forming transverse wings at fruits. Perianth of fruit consists of lobes forming wide, membranous, strongly venous, brownish or pink, semicircular wings at bract; the wings are arranged in star configuration; three wings are well developed, two others are very narrow, often knob-like; perianth is gristly under wings, membranous above, holding one tight seed. Seed widely obconic, dull, 1.5-2.5 mm in diameter and approximately 1 mm thick, grayish-brown or olive-colored. One plant gives 200,000 seeds. Weight of 1,000 seeds is 2-3 g. Blossoms in July-September.


Western Europe, Mediterranean area, North Africa, Asia Minor, Northern China, Tibet, Mongolia; North America and Australia (adventive plant). The European part of the former USSR except the Far North, Crimea, the Caucasus, Northern Kazakhstan, Western Siberia, Eastern Siberia, Central Asia.


The plant prefers light sandy-clay and sandy soils. It tolerates drought and salinization. Shoots emerge at sufficient quantity of heat.

Economic significance.

Weed of grain and tilled crops, occurring in vineyards, orchards, fallow and waste lands, along roads. Control measures include stubbling, stubble burning, early under-winter plowing, presowing soil cultivation, chemical weeding, mowing in waste lands.

Reference citations:

Keller, B.A., ed. 1934. Weed plants of the USSR. V. 3. Leningrad: AN SSSR. 448 p. (in Russian).
Mal.tsev, A.I. 1937. Atlas of major species of weed plants of the USSR. V. 1. Moscow & Leningrad: Selkhozgiz, 167 p. (in Russian).
Melnichuk, O.S. & Kovalivska, G.M. 1972. Atlas of the most widespread weeds of the Ukraine. Kiev: Urozhai, 99 p. (in Ukrainian).
Nikitin, V.V. 1983. Weed plants of the USSR flora. Leningrad: Nauka, 454 p. (in Russian).
Shishkin, B.K., ed. 1936. Flora of the USSR. V. 6. Moscow & Leningrad: AN SSSR, 956 p. (in Russian).

© Sokolova T.D.

The image of Salsola australis is taken from the book of Melnichuk, O.S. & Kovalivska, G.M. (1972). "Atlas of the most widespread weeds of the Ukraine" (Kiev: Urozhai, 99 p.). There is no copyright to either the whole book or the pictures themselves.

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