Salsola kali is an annual, C4 herb (Jacobs 2001), to 40 cm tall, usually bristly-hairy, stems diffusely branching from base, prostrate to reclining.
Leaves alternate, fleshy, almost cylindrical to 3 cm long, 0.2 cm wide, upper leaves small, spine tipped bracts.
Flowers tiny, green membranous, no petals, calyx, deeply 5-lobed, stiff, midvein extended as spine; bracts of inflorescence spine-tipped.
Fruit dry, whitish, appearing flower-like,1-seeded, enclosed in old calyx; calyx lobes united over fruit tips forming a small beak, and a circular wing, wing edge deeply cleft, and irregular, to 0.6 cm wide; closely surrounding a seed that is coiled, snail-like; blooming and fruiting July-Oct. Seeds eaten by birds, plants and seeds eaten by some mammals (Martin et al. 1951).
Wetland status: FACU.
Frequency in NYC: Infrequent.
Habitat: Beach dunes, above high tide line.