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Ganna bush (Salsola aphylla)


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Common names 

Ganna bush, lyebush, lye bush, lye ganna, lye ganna bush, coastal ganna, [English]; blomkoolganna, brakganna, loog-asganna, beesganna, gannabos, ganna, asganna, channa, ganna-asbos, gannabossie, gewone ganna, gona, grootganna, kanna, kannabos, kortbeenganna, langbeenganna, loogasganna, loogganna, regteganna, rivierganna, seepbos, seepbosganna, seepbossie, seepganna, seep-ganna, soutbossie, soutganna [Afrikans] (USDA, 2019von Staden, 2017).


Caroxylon aphyllum (L.f.) Tzvelev; Caroxylon brevifolium St.-Lag.; Caroxylon salsola Thunb. Salsola aphylla L.f. var. canescens Fenzl ex Drège; Salsola caffra Sparrm. Salsola caroxylon Moq. (von Staden, 2017)

Taxonomic information 

Certain authors have suggested to rename Salsola aphylla as Caroxylon aphyllum (Akhani et al., 2007), but, as of September 2020, this change is not yet implemented in major floras.


Ganna bush (Salsola aphylla) is a succulent, halophytic shrub native of southern Africa where it grows in floodplains or in arid areas where underground water is available. It is browsed by domestic and wild animals.


Salsola aphylla is a much-branched shrub that can reach 1.8-2 (-4) m in height. The branches are slender, thin, straight, bearing very small but distinctly succulent and densely pubescent, minute, oval-shaped leaves that are about as long as they are broad. These leaves are alternate and amplexicaul. The fruit is spherical with a crown of translucent wings (Kyffhäuser Flora, 2020).


Like other Salsola species, ganna bush was used in the past by farmers to make lye and soap (Lichtenstein, 1812), hence its name of lye bush in English and seepbos or seepganna (soap bush) in Afrikans. Salsola aphylla is heavily browsed by all types of wild and domestic animals including ruminants and ostriches (Curasson, 1952; Klopper, 2000; Saayman et al., 2016; van Wyk et al., 1997). In fact, it is so much grazed that it seldom reaches maximum height (Göhl, 1982). It has long been known that even when the Karoo bush is dry and black Salsola aphylla still retains its small fleshy grey foliage, forming a valuable feed in times of scarcity (Thornton, 1908).


Salsola aphylla is native to southern Africa. It is found in South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia. It is abundant in the Karoo, Little Karoo and the Eastern Cape. In the Karoo, its local name of "ganna" has become a designation of the "gannaveld", one of the Karoo ecosystems. It thrives in dry watercourses of the hot and arid inland parts of southern Africa in areas where underground water is likely to be retained longest. It also grows on riverbanks and floodplains in loamy and saline soils which are dry for long periods (Kyffhäuser Flora, 2020; Vlok et al., 2005).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Salsola aphylla foliage is rich in proteins (about 20% DM) with a very high mineral content (20 to 30%).

Potential constraints 

Salsola aphylla, like other Salsola species, contains high amounts of sodium chloride and sometime nitrates, which limits their intake by animals (Curasson, 1952). It contains oxalates (Milton et al., 1994).


Salsola aphylla is part of the grazing diet of wild and domestic ruminants in its native range. For instance, it was part of the grazing land in sheep farms in Northern Karoo (Erasmus et al., 2016). It is considered to be highly palatable (Burke, 2013).


The succulent leaves of ganna bush were reported to be part of the natural diet of Karoo ostriches, which included other juicy leaves (Mesembryanthenum spp., spekboom (Portulacaria afra) and berries (Euclea undulataColpoon compressum, Rhus undulata and Carissa haematocarpa) (Dingle, 1999).


No information seems available (June 2020) on the use of Salsola aphylla in domestic rabbit feeding. This shrub is consumed in South Africa by wild riverine rabbits (Brunolagus monticularis) in areas where Salsola aphylla is the main bush (Todd, 2016). As seen in the previous sections, Salsola aphylla is widely browsed by wild and domestic ruminants, and it can thus be considered as a potential forage suitable in fresh or dry form for rabbit feeding.

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 28.1       1  
Crude protein % DM 20 2.5 16.3 26.3 14  
Crude fibre % DM 14.9       1  
Neutral detergent fibre % DM 39.8         *
Acid detergent fibre % DM 17         *
Ether extract % DM 2   2 2 2  
Ash % DM 28.6       1  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 14.4         *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 15.5       1  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.6       1  
Sodium g/kg DM 87.7       1  
Ruminants nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 88.6         *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 84.7         *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 12.2         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 9.6         *
Rabbit nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE rabbit MJ/kg DM 7.5         *
MEn rabbit MJ/kg DM 6.5         *
Energy digestibility, rabbit % 52         *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Henrici, 1932; Henrici, 1935; Milton et al., 1994

Last updated on 08/09/2020 16:03:05

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Hassoun P., Lebas F., 2020. Ganna bush (Salsola aphylla). Feedipedia, a programme by INRAE, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://feedipedia.org/node/100 Last updated on September 8, 2020, 16:44