Salsola tragus L.

Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Native

Erect to rounded annual to c. 60 cm high (commonly breaking off near ground level at maturity and dispersing tumbleweed-fashion), glabrous, sparsely bristly or tuberculate on leaf margins and/or stems. Leaves mostly alternate, linear, subulate or triangular, 5–40 mm long, 0.5–6 mm wide, winged and shortly decurrent at base, spreading or recurved, spine-tipped, semi-terete to trigonous in section; floral leaves and bracteoles shorter and sometimes thicker than normal leaves. Flowers sessile, solitary in upper axils; perianth segments at anthesis erect, lanceolate, c. 2 mm long, membranous. Wings of fruiting perianth segments fan-shaped to semicircular, 3–5 mm wide, translucent with dark brown venation, rarely rosy pink all over, or if wings not developed then segments usually strongly thickened with a narrow transverse ridge toward base. Utricle hemispherical, truncate or depressed at summit, c. 2.5 mm diam., membranous in lower half, slightly thickened at apex. Flowers mainly May.–Oct.

CVU, EGU, GipP, MuM, SnM, VVP, Wim, *Brid, *Gold, *LoM, *MuF, *OtP, *RobP, *VRiv. Widespread in semi-arid, often slightly saline areas in the north and north-west, occasionally coastal (Portland, Port Phillip, Western Port), with isolated occurrences in the east (e.g. Mackillops Bridge and Mallacoota areas).

A highly variable species. Currently 2 subspecies are recognised in Victoria. A third, slender-leaved variant from the upper Snowy River area in eastern Victoria was noted by Walsh (1996). These plants were previously associated with S. kali var. leptophylla Benth. However, it is questionable whether these plants sit outside the range of variation of S. tragus subsp. tragus.

This species is now largely thought to be native in Australia. Recently it has been proposed that Australian plants are distinct from those overseas, and that we adopt the name S. australis R.Br. (Chinnock 2010). Such a change would have implications for any subspecific or currently unrecognised taxa. Salsola tragus remains in use here as new combinations have yet to be made. Further changes in nomenclature are likely pending taxonomic review.   

Source: Walsh, N.G. (1996). Chenopodiaceae. In: Walsh, N.G.; Entwisle, T.J. (eds), Flora of Victoria Vol. 3, Dicotyledons Winteraceae to Myrtaceae. Inkata Press, Melbourne (as Salsola kali L.).
Updated by: Val Stajsic, 2018-02-14
Hero image
Distribution map
life Life
kingdom Plantae
phylum Tracheophyta
superorder Caryophyllanae
genus Salsola
Higher taxa
Subordinate taxa


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <>. Find Salsola tragus in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Salsola tragus in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Lowan Mallee present introduced
Murray Mallee present native
Wimmera present native
Bridgewater present introduced
Victorian Volcanic Plain present native
Victorian Riverina present introduced
Robinvale Plains present introduced
Murray Fans present introduced
Gippsland Plain present native
Otway Plain present introduced
Goldfields present introduced
Central Victorian Uplands present native
East Gippsland Uplands present native
Snowy Mountains present native