Animal feed resources information system

Salsola (Salsola glabrescens)

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).


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Shrublet up to 1 m high, but usually smaller, with small grey-green leaves that are oblong, often pointed, and with fruits that are spherical and have a crown of translucent wings. Usually found along rivers.

Nutritional aspects

Readily eaten by sheep and goats.

Among Karoo grasses and bushes, Salsola glabrescens can be considered as a palatable bush for sheep and goats when it is fed fresh. However, it is not eaten when leaves are dried. Its nutritive value is high with relatively high protein content and high digestibility. It contains also important amount of sodium sulfates. Salsola glabrescens cannot be fed alone and must be mixed with poor quality forages.


When it is fed fresh Salsola glabrescens has been classified as a palatable bushes by sheep or goats raised in the Karoo by several authors (Hobson and Jessop, 1975, Davies et al., 1986, Le Roux et al., 1994, du Toit et al., 1995). It has been even be reported as readily eaten by sheep and goats when fresh (Henrici, 1945, Henrici, 1952). However, it is not eaten by sheep and goats when the leaves are dried (Henrici, 1945, Henrici, 1952). For that reason, it is no use to conserve this forage dry.

When fresh, Davies et al (1986) observed that Salsola glabrescens was specially selected by rams during Karoo drought. A reason is that, given Salsola glabrescens is very drought tolerant (Hobson and Jessop, 1975) and it can frequently be the only green foliage present during those periods (Le Roux et al., 1994). Thoughout a year, Du Toit et al (1995) observed that sheep and goats grazed Salsola glabrescens, on average, in proportion to their availability in winter, spring and autumn and in a lower proportion in autumn. Le Roux (1994) highlighted that Salsola glabrescens is less grazed when it occurs in homogenous stands.

Digestibility and nutritive value

When fed fresh during winter and early spring, leaves of Salsola glabrescens are characterized by digestibilities of dry matter and fibre of 70.5 and 67.5% respectively in sheep (Henrici, 1945). These values can be considered as high when compared to other forages arising from Karoo bushes (Henrici, 1945). The crude protein content of Salsola glabrescens is also high compared to that of other Karoo bushes, i.e. about 16% DM according to Henrici (1945). Therefore, it can be consider that the nutritive value of fresh Salsola glabrescens is high. Whether its non protein nitrogen content may be high, the nitrate content of Salsola glabrescens is very low, i.e. between 0.08 and 0.11 % (Henrici, 1952).

Fresh Salsola glabrescens is also characterized by a high ash content, i. e. 13.2% according to Henrici (1945). Salsola glabrescens is classified as one of the Karoo shrubs that accumulates of sodium chloride or sulphates, like most other Salsola (Henrici, 1952). More specifically, Salsola glabrescens, like other Salsola species, have a very high sulphate and sodium contents, especially on brak soil on on which the ash content of such plants may be as high as 30-40% of the dry matter (Henrici, 1952). On ordinary soil after some years the soil becomes depleted of sulphate by the drain from the plants, and the sulphate decrease (Henrici, 1952). Salsola species are also known for their low seasonal fluctuations of phosphorus contents (Henrici, 1952). This latter can be relatively high compared to other Karoo plants, and more specifically Karoo grasses in summer and winter (Henrici, 1952).

Salsola glabrescens should never be offered as only grazing because of risk of diarrhea (Botha, 1939 cited by Henrici, 1952). It must be treated as concentrates with poor grass given as supplement to balance the diet (Henrici, 1945, Henrici, 1952). In the reported digestibility trials, Henrici (1945) fed to sheep two parts of fresh Themeda to one part of Salsola glabrescens on a fresh basis.

When leaves of Salsola glabrescens are fed dried, the digestibility of fiber and protein become very low (Henrici, 1945, Henrici, 1952).

Fat content and meat quality

Salsola glabrescens is also characterized by a high ether extract content, even though it remains in the average for Karoo plants (Henrici, 1945), but also by a very high digestibility of ether extract (more than 98%) (Henrici, 1952). Ether extract can be assimilated to fat even though its exact composition is not totally described. This has been evocated as a reason of the high fat content of meat from sheep of the Karoo and the positive effect of Salsola glabrescens of gains in body weight (Henrici, 1952).

It has been observed that Salsola glabrescens could contribute, among other Karoo Salsola species to the specific sensory profile of Karoo lamb likely because of high contents of plants econdary metabolites, such as mono- and sesquiterpenes (Erasmus et al., 2016). Descriptor related to this plant that aroused from sensory panels were : Dusty, Sandy, Soapy, Woody, Damp/Musty Cayenne Pepper, Sheep wool, Tobacco, Ceylon tea (Erasmus et al., 2016).

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

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Crude protein % DM 16.5 1
Crude fibre % DM 25.2 1
Ether extract % DM 2.1 1
Ash % DM 13.2 1
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.5 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 19.5 1
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.5 1
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 74.1 1
ME ruminants (FAO, 1982) MJ/kg DM 10.4 1
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 69.8 1

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


Henrici, 1945

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:44:59

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DATASHEET UNDER CONSTRUCTION. DO NOT QUOTE. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/99 Last updated on July 11, 2019, 18:04

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