Tall saltbush (Rhagodia eremaea) in the Western Australian rangelands

Page last updated: Tuesday, 21 July 2020 - 3:52pm

Tall saltbush (Rhagodia eremaea) is one of many plant species found in the Western Australian rangelands. This page provides a summary of the plant's value for pastoralism. Pastoral lessees and station managers can use this information to assess pasture condition and trend.

Indicator value

Tall saltbush has little value as an indicator of pasture condition. It is resistant to heavy grazing and able to persist when more palatable species are eliminated.

Periods of heavy grazing pressure affect the way the plant grows and this is easily observed at fixed photo-record sites. Where pasture condition is improving, the companion desirables that are expected to increase in density include ruby saltbush, ribbon grass, currant bush, silky browntop, cotton bush, narrow leaf mulla mulla and Wilcox bush.

Forage value

Tall saltbush is moderately palatable to livestock and goats, and less palatable to kangaroos. It sheds some of its leaves during drought. The foliage contains little salt.

In grass-dominated pastures, tall saltbush often persists with wait-a-while (Acacia cuspidifolia), bardie bush, mingah (Alectryon oleifolius) and curara (Acacia tetragonophylla). These persistent shrubs contribute most of the livestock fodder intake when the dominant grass becomes unpalatable, which occurs when crude protein level in the grasses falls below the maintenance requirement of 6%.

Habitat

Various soils

General description

Tall saltbush is a silvered grey-green branched shrub that has a scrambling habit when under the canopy of taller protective plants. The leaves are spear-head shaped, sometimes lobed at the base. They are usually up to 2cm long by 1cm wide. Very short waxy hairs on the leaves give tall saltbush its silver appearance. Male and female flowers are produced on separate plants and form upright clusters. Mature female fruits are carried in bunches of succulent red berries up to 3mm across.

Contact information

Kath Ryan
+61 (0)8 9166 4015
Matthew Fletcher
+61 (0)8 9166 4019