Halostachys caspica (Gintzburger et al., 2003)

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Halocnemum strobilaceum
Gintzburger et al., Rangelands in Uzbekistan, 2003
Halostachys caspica (Gintzburger et al., 2003)
Haloxylon aphyllum
Halostachys caspica
Halostachys caspica
Halostachys caspica

Halostachys caspica (Pall.) CAM.

Local name:

  • Russian: Соляноколосник каспийский - soljanokolosnik kaspijskij
  • Uzbek: Korabarak, Korabarken
  • Turkmen: Shortak
  • Kazakh: Karabarak, Tyube-Sorang

Description and morphology: Perennial small bush (height up to 2.5 m) with succulent, articulate and strongly ramified annual branches. Stem: pale-coloured, succulent, glabrous, articulate, smooth, but often rough with short barb. Leaves: opposite, in form of small, fleshy, triangular acuminate scale. Perianth fleshy, 3-lobed, accreted almost to upper side. Flowers: bisexual; inconspicuous, without bracteoles and assembled into spike in groups (3). Inflorescence: opposite, fleshy, ovoid-oblong, spike-shaped; 1 stamen at front position. Pollen grains 3-celled, pentaporate. Ovary with 2 stigmas, hollowed-ovoid on margin, bitegmic, crassi-nucellate ovule. Active growth in April.

Reproduction: Sexual. Flowering: July–August. Fruit maturation: August–September. Fruit nutlike, monospermous, indehiscent with thin membranous fruiting body. Perianth at fruit maturity slightly inflated, 3-edged. Seed: small (about 0.75 mm), vertical, ovate-oblong, glabrous with a small embryo spirally intorted without endosperm. Dormancy B1 type. Germination is low and stimulated by stratification (3 °C) for 0.5–1 month or by processing stimulators.

Pastoral importance: Grazed little and poor value. After autumn rain and winter, sometimes eaten by camels; sheep and goats do not graze it. Prospective shrub for reseeding on saline soils, where other woody plants cannot grow. Expected green forage in the autumn on shore of Aral Sea reaches 1–2 t DM/ha. May be poisonous due to the presence of anabasin. Fodder value: At fruit stage (% DM): crude protein 15; fat 3.7; cellulose 12; nitrogen-free extract 29; ash 36 (of which about 30% is potassium). An alkaloid ‘halostatin’ is also present.

Economic interest: Used as fuelwood when dry. Also medicinal, decorative, industrial (source of potassium). Extract from plants has strong insecticidal properties.

Habitat: Hyper-halophyte. Grows vigorously, individually or in patches, on wet compact and muddy salt-marsh with solonchak-alkaline soil. Sometimes, unique plant able to grow on salt-marsh (solonchak-alkali) soil of Aral and southern Balkash region. Also present in southwestern Kyzylkum.

Distribution: Lower part of Volga valley, Caucasus to plain of Central Asia, Iran, Mongolia and China.