LONG-SPIKED GLASSWORT

Salicornia dolichostachya

Goosefoot Family [Amaranthaceae]

month8aug month8sep month8sept

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8yellow
petals
petalsZ0
stem
stem8round
rarity
rarityZuncommon
sex
sexZbisexual

21st Sept 2013, marshes, Marshside, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
In Long-spiked Glasswort the green flower spike is... er, long...
And there they are, all strangely curled up like an umbrella towards your left. Your Author thinks this specimen had been ripped out by what else but the rip tides, as he doesn't normally uproot plants.


21st Sept 2013, marshes, Marshside, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Long Spiked Glasswort is well-branched. Each segment in the spike is a floret, although not as we know it Spock.


21st Sept 2013, marshes, Marshside, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
A flower-spike at the top of a thin stalk.


21st Sept 2013, marshes, Marshside, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The flowers on the spike are numerous. Looking at the bottom there are 3 areas fused together with a pale-green Y-shape in their centres and a now-brown dot or patch. Those 3 dots are/were the flowers: minute! These flowers are alternately set at right-angles to each other up the stem.

So the whole stem alternates 3, 2, 3, 2, 3, 2 flowers all the way up the green spike.



21st Sept 2013, marshes, Marshside, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
We are now getting to the root of the matter.


10th Oct 2015, marshes, Marshside, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Three weeks later in the season and in a later year. The main stem has paired opposite branches coming off it, at right-angles to the upper or lower one. Each branch can bear one or more green flower spike.


10th Oct 2015, marshes, Marshside, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Some flower spikes begin with a tapering yellowish section before getting on the the flower spike, whilst others don't seem to.


10th Oct 2015, marshes, Marshside, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD


10th Oct 2015, marshes, Marshside, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Here is the nitty gritty. The identical sections are in tiers up the stem, but each section above or below is at 90° to the one in the middle.
Looking at the bottom is a group of three sections in a boomerang-like shape, each with a tiny flower in. There is another set of three on the far side. Above or below that section is an identical section but turned 90° so you now see a larger object with a pitched roof and tapering wibbly sides. So each section is alternately at 90° as you proceed up the inflorescence. Each section has 3 tiny florets, as described above (albeit aged spent florets).


10th Oct 2015, marshes, Marshside, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
This spike has been turned 45° so that you can now see the identical sections going up, each at 90° to the ones above or below.


10th Oct 2015, marshes, Marshside, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The flower is tiny and cream coloured; three are in this frame.


10th Oct 2015, marshes, Marshside, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
A better specimen showing the florets from each flowering section; the larger separator lacks flowers.


10th Oct 2015, marshes, Marshside, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Other views of the flowers.


10th Oct 2015, marshes, Marshside, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
And another view. This one might(?) show cream coloured anthers and icicle-like styles/stigmas of the bisexual florets.


Each differing Glasswort should be identified by the shape and size of the florets on the flowering spike. Other characteristics such as overall shape and stance of the plant are not as reliable.

Glassworts are very difficult to identify, some think that there are 20 to 30 differing species in the British Isles, others think perhaps only 7 are reliably distinguishable from each other, whilst some taxonomists think there might only be 3 species. This is all to do with the phenotypic plasticity exhibited by Glassworts, with the same species exhibiting differing characteristics in the north and the south of the UK. For instance, Long-spiked Glasswort, Yellow Glasswort and Shiny Glasswort might all be placed under the Salicornia procumbens aggregate!

Not to be confused with: Venus's Looking Glass (Legousia hybrida) a plant with similar name belonging to a differing family.

It is native and to be found in the UK in not only the lower parts of salt-marshes, but also along dykes on the coasts of Britain to Central Scotland; and around the coasts of Ireland.


  Salicornia dolichostachya  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Amaranthaceae  

Distribution
 family8Goosefoot family8Amaranthaceae
 BSBI maps
genus8Salicornia
Salicornia
(Glassworts)

LONG-SPIKED GLASSWORT

Salicornia dolichostachya

Goosefoot Family [Amaranthaceae]