Plant family: Bataceae - Pickleweed
Plant type: Shrub
Plant origin: N/A, California
Coastal Salt Marsh, Coastal Strand
Sand, Alkaline, Salt
Edible , Hedges and Screens, Important to Native People, Salt Tolerant
Saltwort is evergreen, low growing, but once rooted growing bushy. The leaves are small, swollen, fleshy and narrowly club-shaped. They are bright green, but can also take on a reddish color. The flowers are small, produced in non-showy spikes, flowering from mid summer to fall. Batis has the ability to live in salty environments and to help it survive in this salty habitat, its fleshy leaves are covered with very fine hairs that reduce the amount of water the plant loses to the air. B. maritima was used by Native Americans as a food, the roots were chewed (like sugar cane) or boiled into a beverage while the stems and leaves were eaten raw, cooked or pickled. B. argillicola is also eaten as a green vegetable. Saltwort has unexpectedly turned out to be a nutritious food source. An analysis of its peppercorn-sized seeds has revealed that they are extremely nutritious, having high quantities of proteins, oils and starches. The seeds are extremely edible, having a nutty taste, and they can be added to salads, toasted or even made into miniature popcorn. The oil is almost identical to safflower oil, which is used for cooking and in salad dressings, as well as for making margarine. The seeds also contain beneficial antioxidants such as tocopherols, which are thought to fight cancer.
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