Ruby saltbush is a desirable shrub that is present in nearly all shrubland plant communities, with the exception of very low productivity sandplain areas and hypersaline soils. Abundant mature plants, as a component of the pasture, are a reliable indicator of good pasture condition. Stands dominated by young seedlings and juvenile plants are not a reliable indicator of pasture condition trend because the survival rate of juvenile plants is low. If mature plants are absent from the community, or only found under shrubs where they cannot be grazed, the pasture is in fair or poor condition.
Ruby saltbush is an important feed source for sheep. It has moderate palatability, low digestibility, crude protein about 15–19% of dry matter, and mineral content is adequate or higher for livestock (Enrich project)
Ruby saltbush is an open, straggling shrub that can grow up to 2m tall when protected by taller shrubs or tree clumps. Grazing commonly limits plant height in the open to 40–50cm. Leaf colour varies from dark blue-green to light shades of silver-grey and silver-green. The leaves often appear succulent and may be hairy or smooth. They are 1–2cm long and narrowly cylindrical. Stems are distinctively marked with parallel lines. The flowers are small, occurring in the leaf axils. The fruits are succulent, and yellow to red.