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(saltwort), a genus of plants of the family Chenopo-diaceae. These annual herbs, shrubs, and subshrubs generally have alternate, fleshy, and linear or semicylindrical leaves. The bisexual flowers usually are borne singly in the axils of the brac-teal leaves and form spicate or panicled inflorescences. There are usually five perianth segments, which are partite and often develop horizontal wings near the fruits.
There are more than 150 species, distributed primarily in the deserts and semideserts of Eurasia and Africa. Species have been introduced into the Americas and Australia. There are about 80 species in the USSR, growing mainly in Middle Asia. The plants grow principally on solonchaks, solonetzes, and sands. The following are valuable pasture plants for camels, sheep, and goats: the subshrub S. orientalis (formerly S. rígida), the shrub S.arbúsculo, and the annuals S. crassa, S. lanata, S. brachiata, and S. turcomanica. The species S. ibérica is a weed and fodder plant. Some species, for example, S. paletzkiana, serve to fix sands. Shrub species are used as fuel. The shrub S. richteri, which grows in sandy deserts of Middle Asia, contains the alkaloids salsoline and salsolidine in its fruits, flowers, and leaves; the alkaloids are used in treating hypertension. Species whose anthers have swollen appendages, for example, S. crassa, are often placed in the genus Cltmacoptera.