Cottony Saltbush
Red-fruiting Bush
Cottony Saltbush
Leaf Budding
Cottony Saltbush (Chenopodium curvispicatum)Class: Plants (Plantae) - Land Plants (Charophyta) - Land Plants (Equisetopsida) - Shrubs & Bushes
Order: Betalains (Caryophyllales)
Family: Goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae)     iNaturalist Observation
Species: Cottony Saltbush (Chenopodium curvispicatum)
This Photo:     🔍Tall Bush🔎
Synonym: Rhagodia gaudichaudiana
Other names: Cottony Goosefoot or White Goosefoot

Thank you Dr Kym Nicolson, Byron Golledge & Tony and Jenny Dominelli for confirming the id of this species for us

General Species Information:
Found on Ellura (in the Murray Mallee, SA), the Riverland and elsewhere
Generally a structural parasite than uses other bushes for shade and to allow it's stems to reach much higher. As such, often seen as a vine. However, it can survive on it's own; but tends to be lower to the ground and more prostrate in this situation. Over a metre tall inside another bush, or ankle height on it's own. It's possible the low height is due to grazing, where those in another bush are more protected.
Green to silvery grey leaves which are rounded triangular and shovel shaped.
The soft parts of the plant (leaves, flowers, etc; non-woody) are covered in vesicular hairs (hairs ending with a sack/bladder). It's possible these sacks are filled with moisture when young and dry out, we're not sure. We always thought they were salt crystals. Some look like tiny inverted mushrooms; possibly once/if they've dried.
Primarily female flowers with some bi-sexual flowers on the same bush (ie polygamo-monoecious), which are petalless.
We see predominantly red fruit, with red tepals, but we also get yellow fruit.
The fruit is encapsulated within 5 tepals that open to reveal the fruit. As it matures and opens it looks like a red flower with 5 petals.These tepals can look as though they are stained by the fruit on the inside, but can be red or green regardless of fruit colour.
Occasional fruits can appear shrivelled and dried up; we assume this is caused by Hemiptera (True bugs) attack.
The green colouring here of the leaves is different to how we see them in the field. This is because the underlying colour of the leaves is green, but the vesicular hairs are translucent and reflective giving the leaves a grey look. An optical illusion really.
Antoni Milewski suggested the green tepal colour was due to the plant being another species C. gaudichaudianus. While possible, that species isn't recognised in our area. We've added some photo's showing how the tepals can be multiple colours. We agree with Antoni that the brown tepals are old.

Copyright © 2013-2023 Brett & Marie Smith. All Rights Reserved. Photographed 05-Jun-2013
This species is classed as LC (Least Concern) in the Murray Mallee, SA, by DENR (Regional Species Status Assessments, July 2010)