Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ruby Saltbush - Enchylaena tomentosa

Enchylaena tomentosa

This inconspicuous little succulent is a halophyte that can be found in any state of Australia, and has edible leaves and berries. The berries are small (~5mm) and though usually red can be yellow, although I believe that the yellow fruit are immature stages of the red fruit, as they occur on the same plant. The plant is quite variable, from prostrate to upright, with grey to green leaves. There are two varieties in South-east QLD, E. tomentosa var. tomentosa and E. tomentosa var. glabra, having either tomentose or glabrous stems and leaves respectively.

Genus species
Ruby Saltbush

Shrub up to 1.5m (rarely this tall), often procumbent.
Terete (cylindrical) leaves tomentose, giving greyish appearance.
Fruiting perianths red or yellow, depressed-globose, succulent
Found throughout most of Australia, both coastally and inland, also a common plant of salt marshes.
Flowers  year round
Fruits  year round
Tomentose – covered with short dense matted hairs
Raw- fruit and leaves
Prevents scurvy

Red and yellow fruit on the same shrub
The leaves have been eaten by early white people in Australia to prevent and/or cure scurvy. There is no other medical information available on this plant. There are records of the fruit being eaten by the Alyawara people of central Australia.

Cylindrical cross section of succulent leaf

Leaf arrangement around stem

The fruit taste sweet and salty

The large seed inside each fruit

Exerpt from Stanley & Ross



O’Connell, J & Barnett, P. 1983.  Traditional and Modern Plant Use among the Alyawara of Central Australia. Economic Botany 37(1) : 80-109
Stanley, T & Ross, E. Flora of South-eastern Queensland V1. 1983. Department of Primary Industries (QLD)


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  2. Hi Wullum. Is there any way to subscribe to this blog? I ca,'t see anywhere to add my email or click follow.
    PS: Thanks for your comment on my blog, appreciated.
    Regards, Keith.
    A Woodsrunner's Diary.

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  4. Thanks for visiting my blog. I seem to be doing something similar to this, but at the opposite end of the earth so the medicinal plants I'm working with are different.

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  5. very interesting article nice information

  6. This inconspicuous little succulent is a halophyte that can be found in any state of Australia, and has edible leaves and berries.
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