Saltbush Facts

Saltbush Facts
Saltbush is flowering plant that belongs to the amaranth family. There are 250 to 300 species of saltbush that can be found in Europe, North America and Australia. Saltbush grows in deserts, salt deserts and arid regions. It can be found from the sea level to the altitude of 8.000 feet. Saltbush thrives best on deep, well-drained, loamy or gravelly soils, exposed to direct sunlight. It tolerates drought, increased salinity of the soil and shade. People cultivate saltbush mostly in ornamental purposes.
Interesting Saltbush Facts:
Saltbush grows in the form of shrub. It has erect, multi-branched stem covered with whitish bark that can reach 1 to 8 feet in height.
Saltbush develops simple, usually triangular-shaped leaves. They are small, serrated on the edges, and alternately or rarely oppositely arranged on the stem.
Saltbush sheds its leaves during the periods of extreme drought to prevent loss of water via transpiration.
Most species of saltbush are dioecious (male and female flowers develop on the separate plants). Few species of saltbush produces flowers with both types of reproductive organs (bisexual). Male flowers are usually yellow or red colored, arranged in dense clusters at the end of the branches. Female flowers have two small bracts (modified leaves) instead of typical petals and they often grow from the axils of leaves.
Saltbush blooms from the middle of the spring to the middle of the summer. Flowers are designed for the pollination by wind.
Saltbush produces dry fruit called utricle. Fruit contains flattened, vertically oriented seed covered with tough, leathery coat.
Fruit of saltbush remains on the bush throughout the winter.
Name "saltbush" refers to the ability of plant to thrive on the salty soils. It eliminates excess salt from the tissue via leaves. Salt deposited on the surface of leaves facilitates accumulation of the atmospheric moisture and provides much-needed water during the periods of drought.
Saltbush is rich source of proteins, carbohydrates and minerals. It is often used as animal fodder. Thanks to high content of minerals, saltbush is also known as "cattle spinach".
Saltbush represents important source of food for the antelopes, bighorn sheep, elk, deer, rabbits and songbirds during the winter.
Saltbush has strong root system that can grow to the depth of 20 feet. People often plant saltbush near the coasts to prevent erosion of the soil.
Native Americans used twigs and leaves of common saltbush as a source of yellow pigment. Porridge made of saltbush seed was popular among the southwestern tribes.
Pollen of saltbush can induce strong allergic reaction in sensitive individuals.
Poultices made of crushed leaves of saltbush can be used to soothe insect bites and to reduce swelling and redness of the skin.
Saltbush can survive one (annual) or from 25 to 150 (perennial) years in the wild, depending on the species.

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