Salsola oppositifolia Desfontania


  • A team of researchers from Gandhinagar-based Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) Foundation has discovered a new species of saltwort called Salsola oppositifolia Desfontania, a perennial shrub that grows in saline, arid to semi-arid environments of the Kutch district.

About Salsola oppositifolia Desfontania

  • A new species of saltwort called Salsola Oppositifolia Desf., a perennial shrub that grows in saline, arid to semi-arid environments of the Kutch district.

    Salsola oppositifolia Desfontania
    Photo Credit: Indian Express
  • A species that belongs to the family of Amaranthaceae, has been reported in the latest issue of Plant Discoveries, an annual compendium published by the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) since 2007.
  • Earlier known from Italy, Northern Africa, Palestine, Spain and Western Sahara, has been reported for the first time from India based on the collection made from Khadir Bet, Kutch, Gujarat at 15.5-m altitude.
  • It is a perennial, succulent shrub that can grow one to two metres tall and have a smooth, cylindrical, woody base.
  • It is rarely prostrate and unlike other species of Salsola, does not have any hairs.
  • As the name oppositifolia suggests, the leaves of this plant grow opposite each other in the stem.
  • It is a halophyte — a plant adapted to growing in saline conditions.
  • The sixth species of Salsola genus to be discovered in India.
  • Previously, Salsola kali, Salsola hatmanii, Salsola monoptera, Caroxylon imbricatum (Salsola baryosma) and Halogeton glomeratus (Salsola glomerata) were recorded in India.
  • Salsola baryosma was also previously recorded in Great Rann of Kutch (GRK).
  • Plants of the Salsola genus have salty juice stored in their leaves.
  • Locals in Kutch call plants of Salsola oppositifolia ‘morad’, a name they commonly use for Suaeda nudiflora (from the Amaranthaceae family), as they don’t understand the finer differences between the two species as both of them are halophytes.
  • Salsola oppositifolia is used as a raw material for manufacturing soda ash.
  • Salsola species are used in manufacturing lye and soaps.
  • Suaeda nudiflora and Suaeda fruticosa are also halophytes and are used as fodder in Kutch.
  • The latter is locally called bethi unt morad.
  • While unt, which literally means a camel, and refers to the tall height of the plant, bethi translates to sitting in reference to the plant that lies flat or prostrate on the ground.

Source: IE

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