Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Southern Saltwort + - Salsola kali var. caroliniana   (Walter) Nuttall
Members of Chenopodiaceae:
Members of Salsola with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Family Chenopodiaceae
Author(Walter) Nuttall
DistributionWe map maritime records of "Salsola kali" as var. caroliniana unless otherwise indicated. A specimen from Brunswick County mainland is actually nominate Northern Saltwort (var. kali), which Weakley (2018) says is "Generally considered to be introduced in North America". However, he suggests that Southern Saltwort may be native, perhaps based on the fact that it was found back in the late 1700s by Walter (he named it Salsola caroliniana). However, FNA (vol. 4, p. 401) states that this entity is the same as S. kali ssp. pontica, definitely an alien from Eurasia. Only DNA research can provide an answer.

Mostly maritime -- MA to FL and TX.
AbundanceUncommon to fairly common along the coast, from southern Dare County southward. Very rare inland, where almost certainly not native.
HabitatOcean and sound beaches and sandspits, mostly where there is a "wrackline," margins of brackish marshes, disturbed maritime soil.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting June-November.
IdentificationSaltworts are notably prickly, due to the numerous, narrow, spine-tipped leaves. Plants vary from rather prostrate to erect, usually widely branched and many-branched; they can reach 1-3 feet tall. The stem and branches are often bright red. White to reddish flowers grow nestled in spiny bracts.
Taxonomic CommentsIn some texts this entity is included within Salsola kali as ssp. pontica (Pallas) Mosyakin. A synonym is S. caroliniana Walter.

Other Common Name(s)Russian Thistle (in use for any and all Salsola taxa)
State RankS3
Global RankGU
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