Synonym: Salsola pestifer
Family: Chenopodiaceae – Goosefoot Family
Annual herbs; 3.9” to 5.9” (1 to 1.5 dm) tall
Leaves: alternate; simple; grey or bluish; entire; can have hairs; 0.6” to 2.4” (1.5 to 6 cm) long, 0.012” to 0.032” (0.3 to 0.8 mm) wide
Flowers: 0 petals; 2-5 sepals, 0.1” to 0.14” (2.5 to 3.5 mm) long; 1 pistil, 1-3 stigmas; 2 or 3 styles; 5 stamens; small and inconspicuous, small, greenish; perfect
Pollinators: other Salsola species are pollinated by wind
Fruits: utricles – small 1 seeded fruit with a thin wall; large number of seeds that persist
Blooms in Arches National Park: May, June, July, August, September, October
Habitat in Arches National Park : weed in disturbed areas; characteristically grows on halophytic (salty) soils
Location seen: around Visitor Center buildings and entrance road
Other: The genus name, “Salsola”, means “salty” referring to the taste of the young leaves. The species name, “tragus” is possibly from the Greek “tragos” which means “a part of the ear”, "goat" or from Hieronymous Tragus, the Greek name for Jerome Bock (1498-1554), physician, scholar, and one of the three fathers of German botany. The species name, “pestifer”, means “pest” referring to this plant's bad reputation.
Russian-thistle was first introduced into South Dakota around 1873 with flaxseed from Russia . The plant spread over the American West in a few decades.
Plants in this family are generally weedy, but beets and spinach are members of this family. The family is called the goosefoot family because the leaf shape may look like a goose's foot.
Did You Know?
Edward Abbey worked as a seasonal park ranger at Arches in the late 1950s. His 1968 memoir of this experience, "Desert Solitaire," has become a classic of desert literature.