Sisallo (Salsola vermiculata)

The Sisallo or Salsola vermiculata is a small shrub that usually reaches up to one meter in height, it is dark gray, whose narrow leaves and very showy flowers are part of the Chenopodiaceae family.

It dresses the fields and has been their guardian since ancient times, helping to prevent erosion.


In the same way it provides chemical resources, it serves as food for many invertebrates and given its resistance they do not need practically anything to survive.

As we have already mentioned, this is a small shrub, hermaphrodite, somewhat hairy, grayish in color and small leaves, although its flowers are not so showy.

This shrub is also called sisallo, barrel, reed, among other very significant names. It has a somewhat irregular branching, whose green color is hidden through a grayish color, a situation that is due to the combination of dust and its hairy appearance.

It is usually found on the edge of roads, slopes and in spaces with a lot of sun exposure. It adapts to difficult environments so it is very resistant, offering its fruits towards the end of summer.

In turn, it has an internal conformation that makes it recycle CO2, which it does by closing its stomata to take advantage of the water. This shrub is so interesting that it is worth detailing because it resists where other plants could die from insolation. It is also resistant to the concentration of salts.

Care and cultivation of Salsola vermiculata

The plant is typical of sub-saline or nitrogenous soils and is found in spaces generally visited by livestock. Its flowering takes place during the months of June until August.

It is found in the Mediterranean region and Portugal, where it has a presence throughout the Region. It can be said that it is a bush with many branches and quite durable or perennial, which with its height that usually reaches up to one meter.

The stem is generally greyish and has leaves that may well be elongated or triangular that end in a sharp point.

Regarding its habitat, it usually grows in lands with a tendency towards arid or semi-dry, these being somewhat salty.


In ancient times the shepherds kept the plant to feed the parturient ewes due to its great contribution of energy and increase milk production. It was also used as pasture for mules, oxen and horses, making it very useful and helping the ecosystems.

It becomes a kind of buffer to alleviate the irreparable consequences of storms, all it requires is that they let it live so it does not need any care.

There is something interesting about this shrub and it is that for the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it acquired importance from the economic point of view, since it was used as a raw material for the manufacture of glasses and soaps.

All this product of high concentrations of organic salts of sodium and potassium, where Salsola vermiculata becomes the protagonist.

It can be said that although today it is not used for more than what was said, in ancient times its branches served as fuel to light the ovens, specifically firewood. From a medicinal point of view, sucking on the stems is believed to relieve stomach pain.

As an ornamental plant, it can be used to decorate patios, orchards and gardens. With it, ornamental floral and sculptural ornaments are made. For the environment, it serves as compost and bedding for livestock, preventing the erosion of soils and/ or land.

In the same way it serves to diagnose and cure diseases present in animals. In the case of people, it also helps prevent diseases, including eye diseases.

From a social, cultural, traditional and symbolic point of view, the plant takes part in processions, floral carpets, wreaths and even children’s games. They are also used to make beehives, baskets, ropes and instruments for plowing and hunting.

Definitely this one meter high shrub is multifaceted and very versatile.

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