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Long-spiked Glasswort

Salicornia dolichostachya

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Amaranthaceae (Amaranth)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
50 centimetres tall
Mud, mudflats, saltmarshes, seaside.

Green, no petals
Minute, green flowers. Yellow anthers.
Succulent, fleshy one-seeded fruit.
The convexed stem segments many-branched. Dull green, becoming yellowish-brown or purple later in the year.
Other Names:
Marsh Samphire.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Salicornia dolichostachya is a species of flowering plant in the family Amaranthaceae. It is commonly known as Long-spiked Glasswort. It is native to coastal areas of North America, specifically from California to British Columbia.

It is an annual succulent herb, usually growing to be around 20-50 cm tall. Its stems are greenish-yellow or reddish and are fleshy, its leaves are scale-like and small. The plant is able to tolerate high levels of salt in the soil, like other glassworts. The flowers are small and greenish, arranged in small clusters.

It is considered an edible plant and the fresh plants are often used to make pickles, it is also used as a seasoning in cooking. It is also used for ornamental and landscaping purposes, as well as for coastal erosion control. Salicornia dolichostachya can be used in similar ways as the common glasswort (Salicornia europaea) but it tends to be smaller and has longer spikes of greenish-yellow flowers.


Long-spiked Glasswort, also known as Salicornia dolichostachya, is a succulent plant that belongs to the family Amaranthaceae. This plant is native to the coastal regions of North and South America and can be found in salt marshes, estuaries, and other wetland habitats. Long-spiked Glasswort is a halophyte, which means it is adapted to living in saline environments.

The plant has cylindrical stems that can grow up to 50 cm long and are a grayish-green color. The stems are jointed, with each joint being about 1 cm long. The leaves of Long-spiked Glasswort are reduced to small scales that are difficult to see without close inspection. The plant flowers in late summer and early fall, producing greenish-white flowers that are arranged in dense spikes at the tips of the stems.

Long-spiked Glasswort is an important plant in the ecology of salt marshes and other wetlands. The plant provides habitat and food for a variety of animals, including insects, snails, and birds. The succulent stems of the plant are also eaten by some mammals, such as muskrats.

In addition to its ecological importance, Long-spiked Glasswort has also been used by humans for various purposes. The plant has been used as a food source in some cultures, with the young stems being eaten raw or cooked. The plant has a salty taste, which is why it is sometimes referred to as “pickleweed.” Long-spiked Glasswort has also been used in traditional medicine for its diuretic and laxative properties.

Long-spiked Glasswort is a hardy plant that can tolerate harsh environmental conditions, including high levels of salt and exposure to flooding. However, like many wetland plants, it is vulnerable to habitat loss and degradation due to human activities such as development and pollution. Conservation efforts are important to ensure the continued survival of Long-spiked Glasswort and the many animals that depend on it.

Long-spiked Glasswort is an important plant in the ecology of salt marshes and other wetlands. The plant provides habitat and food for a variety of animals and has been used by humans for food and medicine. However, habitat loss and degradation pose a threat to the plant and its associated ecosystems, highlighting the importance of conservation efforts to protect this valuable species.

Long-spiked Glasswort is one of several species of Salicornia, a genus of halophytes that are found worldwide in coastal habitats. Other species of Salicornia, such as Salicornia europaea and Salicornia virginica, are also important in salt marsh ecosystems and have similar adaptations to living in saline environments.

One interesting aspect of Long-spiked Glasswort is its ability to accumulate salt in its tissues without being harmed by it. This is due to the plant's specialized salt glands, which are located at the base of each joint on the stem. These glands excrete excess salt from the plant, allowing it to survive in highly saline environments.

In addition to its ecological and cultural importance, Long-spiked Glasswort has potential as a crop plant. The plant's ability to grow in saline soils and its high salt content make it a candidate for cultivation as a food crop or for use in biofuel production. Researchers are currently exploring the potential of Long-spiked Glasswort and other halophytes as a sustainable source of food and fuel in the face of increasing pressure on freshwater resources.

Long-spiked Glasswort is a fascinating plant with many interesting adaptations and uses. As we continue to learn more about this species and its associated ecosystems, it is important that we work to protect and conserve these valuable habitats for the benefit of both humans and wildlife.

Long-spiked Glasswort and other salt marsh plants play an important role in mitigating the effects of climate change. Wetlands, including salt marshes, are among the most efficient carbon sinks on the planet. The plants in these ecosystems absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in their tissues, and the organic matter in the soil also sequesters carbon. Salt marshes are estimated to sequester more carbon per unit area than any other ecosystem on earth, including forests.

In addition to carbon storage, salt marshes provide other important ecosystem services, such as flood protection and water filtration. The dense root systems of salt marsh plants help to stabilize shorelines and reduce erosion, while the vegetation can slow down and absorb storm surges during extreme weather events. Salt marshes also act as natural filters, removing pollutants and excess nutrients from runoff before it enters rivers and oceans.

Despite their many benefits, salt marshes are threatened by a range of human activities, including development, dredging, and pollution. Climate change is also causing sea levels to rise, which could inundate salt marshes and lead to their loss. Conservation efforts are critical to protect these valuable ecosystems and the many services they provide.

Long-spiked Glasswort is a fascinating plant with a rich ecological and cultural history. From its adaptations to saline environments to its potential as a food crop or biofuel source, this plant has much to offer. As we work to protect and conserve salt marsh ecosystems, we can appreciate the important role that Long-spiked Glasswort and other halophytes play in these unique and valuable habitats.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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