Description from Flora of China
Salsola australis R. Brown; S. dichracantha Kitagawa; S. iberica (Sennen & Pau) Botschantzev ex Czerepanov; S. kali Linnaeus var. angustifolia Fenzl; S. kali var. pseudotragus G. Beck; S. kali subsp. ruthenica Soó; S. kali var. tenuifolia Tausch; S. kali var. tragus (Linnaeus) Moquin-Tandon; S. pestifer A. Nelson; S. ruthenica Iljin, nom. illeg. superfl.; S. ruthenica var. filifolia A. J. Li; S. tragus subsp. iberica Sennen & Pau.
Herbs annual, 30-100 cm tall. Stem erect, branched from base, white, or purple-red striate, densely hispid or subglabrous. Leaves semiterete or terete, 1.5-4 cm × 0.5-1.5 mm, glabrous or hispid, base expanded, margin membranous at base, apex spinose mucronate. Inflorescence spikelike; bracts narrowly ovate, longer than bractlets, margin membranous at base, apex spinose mucronate; bractlets ovate, apex spinose mucronate. Perianth (including wings) 7-10 mm in diam. in fruit; segments narrowly ovate, membranous, hardened in fruit, abaxially 1-veined and winged from middle, glabrous; portion of segment above wing connivent with others and enclosing utricle, subleathery, apex membranous; 3 wings sometimes light purple-red, reniform or obovate, larger; other 2 wings narrower. Stigmas filiform, 3-4 × as long as style. Seed horizontal, ca. 2 mm in diam. Fl. Aug-Sep, fr. Sep-Oct.
In its present circumscription, Salsola tragus still remains an extremely polymorphic species probably consisting of several distinct races (subspecies or even segregate species). Studies of allozymes and DNA markers in some North American and Eurasian representatives of S. tragus also indicate that there are several cryptic, genetically divergent populations (Ryan & Ayres, Canad. J. Bot. 78: 59–67. 2000). Several varieties and forms have been recognized within S. tragus, but they are mostly morphological variants of little or no taxonomic value.
Dunes, sandy places, rocky places in Gobi desert, valleys, seashores. N Gansu, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Jilin, Liaoning, Nei Mongol, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Xinjiang, Xizang [native to C and SW Asia and SE Europe; now widely naturalized in S Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America].