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aturalized Photo: Prashant Awale
Common name: Salt-Lover, Aral barilla, Halogeton
Botanical name: Halogeton glomeratus    Family: Chenopodiaceae (Cat-tail family)
Synonyms: Anabasis glomerata, Darniella glomerata, Salsola glomerata

Salt-lover is a hardy annual herb, thriving in soils far too saline to support many other plants. The plant produces a usually erect stem with several curving branches up to about 25 cm tall. It has a taproot reaching up to half a meter deep in the soil and many lateral roots. The branches are lined with narrow, fleshy, blue-green leaves each up to about 2 cm long tipped with stiff bristles. The inflorescences are located all along the stem branches next to the leaves. Each inflorescence is a small cluster of tiny bisexual and female-only flowers accompanied by waxy bracts. The winged, membranous flowers surround the developing fruit, which is all that remains on the plant when it is ripe, the leaves and flower parts having fallen away. The fruit is a pale cylindrical utricle. The plant produces large amounts of seeds, which are dispersed by many vehicles, including human activity, animals (including ants), water flow, wind, and by being carried on the dry plant when it breaks off at ground level and rolls away as a tumbleweed. The seeds have the ability to germinate within one hour after being exposed to water. Salt-Lover is native to C. Asia and N. Pakistan. It has probably become naturalized in parts of the Himalayas. Flowering: July-September.

Identification credit: Miroslav Dvorsky
Photographed in Puga-Sumdo, Ladakh.
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