24-25 species; see text.
Salsola is a genus of the subfamily Salsoloideae in the family Amaranthaceae. The genus sensu stricto is distributed in central and southwestern Asia, North Africa, and the Mediterranean. A common name of various members of this genus and related genera is saltwort, for their salt tolerance. The genus name Salsola is from the Latin salsus, meaning "salty".
The species of Salsola are mostly subshrubs, shrubs, small trees, and rarely annuals. The leaves are mostly alternate, rarely opposite, simple, and entire. The bisexual flowers have five tepals and five stamens. The pistil ends in two stigmata. The fruit is spherical with a spiral embryo and no perisperm.
The genus Salsola belongs to the tribe Salsoleae s.s. of the subfamily Salsoloideae in the family Amaranthaceae. The genus was recircumscribed in 2007 based on molecular phylogenetic research, greatly reducing the number of species. Synonyms of Salsola sensu stricto are: Darniella Maire & Weiller, Fadenia Aellen & Townsend, Neocaspia Tzvelev, Hypocylix Wol., and Seidlitzia Bunge ex Boiss..
The genus Salsola s.s. comprises 24-25 species since Akhani et al., 2007:
Excluded species: Many species formerly grouped in Salsola were excluded by Akhani et al. (2007). They are now classified in separate genera:
The leaves and shoots of S. soda, known in Italy as barba di frate or agretti, are cooked and used as vegetables. The species is also used for the production of potash. In Namibia, where the plant is called gannabos, it is a valuable fodder plant.