Herb: Saltwort

Latin name: Salsola kali

Family: Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family)

Medicinal use of Saltwort:

The juice of the fresh plant is an excellent diuretic. The seedpods can also be used. Salsolin, one of the constituents of the plant, has been used to regulate the blood pressure. It is said to resemble papaverine in its effect on vasoconstriction and hydrastine in its effect on the smooth muscles of the uterus. Reported to be cathartic, diuretic, emmenagogue, stimulant, and vermifuge, the plant is a folk remedy for dropsy and excrescences.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Non-saline sandy beaches, avoiding acid soils. It is usually found on dry soils.

Edible parts of Saltwort:

Young leaves and stems - raw or cooked. An excellent food with a crunchy tender texture. The leaves can be used as a spinach substitute or added in small quantities to salads. Seed - cooked. It can be ground into a meal and used as a gruel, thickener in soups etc or added to cereal flours when making bread etc. The seed is small and hard to collect any quantity.

Other uses of the herb:

The ashes of the burnt plant are used for making glass and soap. At one time large quantities of the ashes were imported into Britain for this purpose, but nowadays a chemical process using salt is employed. The ashes can also be used as a cleaner for fabrics. As a low-water-use plant, germinating quickly on minimally disturbed soils, and relatively free of diseases and parasites, this has been suggested as a fuel source for arid lands. Yields of around 3 tonnes per hectare of plant material have been achieved.

Propagation of Saltwort:

Seed - sow spring in situ. The seed has a short viability and should be stored cool over the winter.

Cultivation of the herb:

Non-saline sandy beaches, avoiding acid soils. It is usually found on dry soils.

Known hazards of Salsola kali:

The plant contains up to 5% oxalic acid, so it should only be used in moderation. Oxalic acid can lock up certain of the nutrients in food and, if eaten in excess, can lead to nutritional deficiencies. It is, however, perfectly safe in small amounts and its acid taste adds a nice flavour to salads. Cooking the plant will reduce the quantity of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones and hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.