Glasswort Facts

Glasswort Facts
Glasswort is succulent plant that belongs to the amaranth family. There are around 60 species of glasswort that originate from North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Glasswort is halophyte, which means that it grows in areas with high content of salt in the soil. It can be found along the coasts and in the salt marshes and mangroves. Glasswort quickly colonizes mudflats in salty marshes (pioneer species), where other plants cannot survive. People cultivate glasswort as a source of food, oil and fuel.
Interesting Glasswort Facts:
Glasswort is low growing plant. It has smooth, fleshy, multi-branched stem with prominent joints (nodes). Stem grows parallel to the ground and produces erect lateral branches. It can reach 4 to 20 inches in height.
Glasswort has bright green stem during the spring and summer and bright red stem during the autumn.
Glasswort produces numerous, small, scale-like succulent leaves. Branches look like they are "naked" (leafless) due to small size and unusual shape of leaves. Color of the leaves (just like the color of the stem) changes from green to red during the autumn.
Glasswort develops small, green flowers arranged in the form of spikes. Flowers grow from the axils of branches and they contain both types of reproductive organs (perfect flowers).
Glasswort blooms from August to November. Flowers are designed for the pollination by wind.
Glasswort produces succulent fruit with one seed. New generation of glasswort develops during the spring from the seed scattered across the mudflats previous year.
Glasswort is important source of food for many birds, insects and mammals in the wild. Some species of glasswort are used as a source of food for goats, donkeys, sheep and cattle.
Glasswort provides shelter for marine invertebrates such as fiddler crab.
Common glasswort (European species) is used in human diet. This species of glasswort is also known as "sea beans" or "samphire greens". Young shoots have salty taste. They can be consumed raw or boiled, steamed or stir-fried. Common glasswort has texture similar to asparagus and it is often used for the preparation of dishes made of fish and seafood. Common glasswort can be also pickled.
Seed of Salicornia bigelovii (species of glasswort) are cultivated as a source of edible oil.
Glasswort can be used for the manufacture biodisel (eco-friendly fuel which does not pollute atmosphere as much as conventional types of fuel).
Soda ash, obtained from the ash of glasswort, was used for the manufacture of glass in the past (hence the name "glasswort").
Sodium carbonate extracted from the glasswort was used for the preparation of soaps until the 19th century.
Juice of prickly glasswort has diuretic properties and it can be used for the elimination of excess water from the body.
Glasswort is an annual plant, which means that it completes its life cycle in one year.

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