Chenopodiaceae Salsola tragus

multiple images of small green flowers with a red center.

Salsola tragus

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.

Last updated: February 3, 2023

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