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Beaded glasswort close.JPG
Sarcocornia quinqueflora
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Amaranthaceae
Subfamily: Salicornioideae
Genus: Sarcocornia

15-25, see text

Sarcocornia is a genus of flowering plants in the amaranth family, Amaranthaceae. They are known commonly as samphires, glassworts, or saltworts.[1] The genus has a cosmopolitan distribution,[2] and is most diverse in the Cape Floristic Region of South Africa.[3]

These are dwarf shrubs taking an erect or prostrate, creeping form.[4] The new stems are fleshy and divided into joint-like segments. Older stems are woody and not segmented. The oppositely arranged leaves are borne on fleshy, knobby petioles, the blades forming small, triangular tips. The inflorescences are spikes made up of joint-like segments with tiny paired cymes of flowers emerging from the joints. The flowers have fleshy tepals, one or two stamens, and 2 or 3 styles.[1]

These halophytic plants often occur in wet saline habitat types, and occasionally in dry saline soils. They can be found in habitats such as estuaries, salt marshes, tidal flats, seacliffs, salt pans, and saline sediment in seasonal desert waterways.[3]

The taxonomy of the genus is unclear, and study of the plants themselves is difficult because only fresh specimens can be used in the clear differentiation of taxa; many useful characters are not present in dry herbarium specimens.[1] Sarcocornia was formed from species formerly belonging to Salicornia and Arthrocnemum. Many sources accept the genus, but some authors continue to question its validity.[4]


There are between 15 and 25 species in the genus.[1][2][3][5]


  1. ^ a b c d Sarcocornia. Flora of North America.
  2. ^ a b Sarcocornia. PlantNET. National Herbarium of New South Wales, Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney.
  3. ^ a b c Steffen, S., et al. (2010). Revision of Sarcocornia (Chenopodiaceae) in South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique. Systematic Botany 35(2), 390-408.
  4. ^ a b Alonso, M. Á. and M. B. Crespo. (2008). Taxonomic and nomenclatural notes on South American taxa of Sarcocornia (Chenopodiaceae). In Annales Botanici Fennici 45(4), 241-54.
  5. ^ Yaprak, A. E. (2012). Sarcocornia obclavata (Amaranthaceae) a new species from Turkey. Phytotaxa 49, 55-60.

External links[edit]

  • Sarcocornia. Red List of South African Plants. South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).