Noaea mucronata (thorny saltwort)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Air Temperature
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Impact Summary
- Environmental Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Prevention and Control
- Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Noaea mucronata (Forssk.) Aschers. & Schweinf., 1887
Preferred Common Name
- thorny saltwort
Other Scientific Names
- Noaea spinosissma L.
International Common Names
- English: bedouin sirr; pig weed
Local Common Names
- Syria: al-seer
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
N. mucronata is an invasive species of arid and semi-arid rangelands within its native range, notably in parts of North Africa (Egypt and Morocco,) and the Middle East (Iraq, Iran and Syria). New records at the limit of its range may indicate further spread (e.g. in southern Russia). It is spiny and generally unpalatable. It increases in frequency and spreads following overgrazing, and its relative dominance is used as an indicator of poor rangeland management and land degradation. It is a little studied species not yet introduced to other areas, but of high potential risk if accidentally introduced, as has been seen with similar invasive rangeland plants.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Caryophyllales
- Family: Chenopodiaceae
- Genus: Noaea
- Species: Noaea mucronata
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
Noaea mucronata (Forssk.) Aschers. & Schweinf. is a well-defined species, and the only synonym appears to be Noaea spinosissima L. recorded by Flora Europaea (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2009). Subspecies are very rarely mentioned in the literature, with the type Noaea mucronata subsp. mucronata, and a single record of subsp. tournefortii (Kaya et al., 2009). Its common name in English is the thorny saltwort, though it is also referred to as the bedouin sirr.
DescriptionTop of page
N. mucronata is a low, much-branched shrub, 20-50 (-75) cm high, with stems hardened at their base. Branches rigid, spine tipped though with no stipules. Leaves 0.5-1.0 (-1.5) cm long, glabrous, alternate and very narrow, cylindrical or terete, filiform and mucronate. Flowers are green, hermaphrodite, solitary and axillary, situated at the axils of the leaves. Perianth segments 5 (3 outer and 2 inner), around 4 mm long, all developing a transverse wing on the back in the white-reddish fruit with wings 3-6 mm, obovate or obovate- to circular with irregularly toothed margin. Stamens 5, stigmas 2. Seeds vertical.
DistributionTop of page
The native range appears to include much of the Mediterranean basin, including the whole coastal region of North Africa, southeastern Europe, Turkey and West Asia, and is also present in Crete and the East Aegean islands (University of Reading, 2006). It is widespread in Iran, noted in Isfahan (Mirghaffari, 2005) and Yazd Province (Maybodi and Arzani, 2005; Maybodi et al., 2007), and as far east as Turkmenistan (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2009). At the southern extremes of its range, it is present in eastern Saudi Arabia and the mountains of Oman (Ghazanfar and Fisher, 1998), and thus may also be expected to be present in the United Arab Emirates. In addition, noting its presence across North Africa, it is also likely to be present in Tunisia though no records could be found.
It was first recorded in southern Russia in 2000 (Mavrodiev and Sukhorukov, 2000), the most northerly record. A record from Equatorial Guinea from 1912 (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2009) is considered here as an error, noting its preferences for dry Mediterranean climates. That Gintzburger et al. (2003) did not include it in a thorough analysis of rangelands plants from Uzbekistan, indicates that it is not present in that country.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
Dominance of N. mucronata in areas within its native range has been reported as a relatively new phenomenon, e.g. in Syria (Sankary, 1982), Iraq (Zakirov, 1989) and Israel (Noy-Mier, 1990). It is uncertain whether recent records in southern Russia refer to first records of it as a native species, or from its spread or introduction to the region. However, acknowledging the expertise of Russian taxonomists and specialists in range management who would have recorded it if they found it, it appears that it is a recent arrival.
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
There is a strong risk of N. mucronata becoming an invasive species in rangelands in non-tropical dry areas where it is not yet present, and dry Mediterranean-type climates in general. At risk may be areas in Central Asia, Australia, North and South America, southern Africa and South and East Asia. From the same family, the related Salsola vermiculata is already an invasive plant in drylands of California, USA, introduced as a palatable range species. In addition, Alhagi maurorum is also native to sympatric areas and has also proved to be highly invasive where introduced. Other similar perennial shrubs/sub-shrubs that are also considered as ‘invasive’ by some range managers within its native range (M Louhachi, ICARDA, Syria, personal communication, 2010), and thus also pose a risk if introduced, include: Anabasis syriaca, Capparis spinosa, Haloxylon articulataum, Pergamum harmala, Poterium spinosum and Prosopis farcta. Herb and grass species also noted as having ‘invasive’ tendencies in its native range include: Aegilops triuncialis, Asphodelus microcarpus, Carex stenophylla, Centaurea coronopifolia, Gundelia tournefortii, Euphorbia macroclada, Halogeton glomeratus, Hypericum triquetrifolium and Zygophyllum fabago.
HabitatTop of page
N. mucronata is a typical shrub in many arid and semi-arid steppes in the south and east of the Mediterranean basin. It is commonly found in the Mesopotamian and Maghribian sub-provinces of the Irano-Turanian chorotype (Gintzburger et al., 2003). In Israel, it is found in Mediterranean woodlands and shrublands, semi-steppe shrublands, shrub-steppes, deserts and extreme deserts, and even in the montane vegetation of Mount Hermon (Flora of Israel, 2009), which may be typical of habitats elsewhere in its range.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural grasslands||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Natural grasslands||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Natural grasslands||Principal habitat||Productive/non-natural|
|Scrub / shrublands||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Deserts||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Arid regions||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Coastal areas||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Coastal dunes||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
It can tolerate poor desert soils or a variety of types from sands to clays, and stony and/or thin soils. It is tolerant of alkaline soils, and of ten species tested by Morsy et al. (2008), it was the best performer at pH 8.5. It is also resistant to salinity and can dominate in saline soils.
ClimateTop of page
|BS - Steppe climate||Preferred||> 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation|
|BW - Desert climate||Preferred||< 430mm annual precipitation|
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers|
|Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter||Tolerated||Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)|
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Absolute minimum temperature (ºC)||-15|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||5||20|
|Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)||10||30|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||10||20|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Dry season duration||6||12||number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall|
|Mean annual rainfall||100||400||mm; lower/upper limits|
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
No literature has been found that has specifically studied means of movement and dispersal, and there are no records of intentional introduction.
Impact SummaryTop of page
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Studies have shown that chronic and intensive grazing of semi-arid rangelands can have significant negative impacts on plant community structure and decrease total plant cover. This degradation often leads to an increase in the frequency of undesirable (toxic or unpalatable) species, weed invasion, sharp declines in plant biomass production and a loss of species diversity (Louhaichi et al., 2009). Thus, invasion of weeds such as N. mucronata is a symptom of overgrazing, but such plants could also play a role in the dynamic ecology that may have direct or indirect impacts on other species.
In Morocco, the important protein-rich range species S. vermiculata, whose presence indicates good grazing land, became reduced in extent during the 1970s and 1980s due to over-exploitation and conversion of rangelands to agriculture, and N. mucronata is most abundant thorny shrub, with its extent increasing in over-grazed areas (Fagouri et al., 1996).
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Invasive in its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Loss of medicinal resources
- Modification of fire regime
- Modification of successional patterns
- Monoculture formation
- Negatively impacts cultural/traditional practices
- Negatively impacts animal health
- Negatively impacts livelihoods
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Interaction with other invasive species
- Produces spines, thorns or burrs
UsesTop of page
The plant is widely used as a fuel for cooking and heating (Al-Oudat et al., 2005). Its value for such purposes is largely due to there being very little other woody biomass available in such rangeland areas, all the other trees and shrubs having already been removed. Also, in such over-exploited regions, N. mucronata increases in frequency, is desirable, and is thus a ‘free’ resource.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
The effects of two-decade exclusion on vegetation steppic rangelands in Iran, found that the cover and density of N. mucronata was significantly greater in grazed areas (Maybodi et al., 2007), supporting the hypothesis that it is a good indicator of overgrazing.Sankary (1982) and Deiri (1990) assumed that this shift in floral composition towards dominance by N. mucronata in Syrian rangelands was the result of overgrazing and poor management, and that a reduction in grazing pressure would lead to the return of a climax community dominated by the palatable shrub Salsola vermiculata.
However, this simple cause and effect hypothesis, of overgrazing leading to increases in N. mucronata density, was questioned by Rae et al. (2001) in Syria, who proposed that rather than being due to overgrazing, the increase in N. mucronata is a result of changes in the composition of livestock types grazing the steppe (camels, goats, sheep), coupled with the adoption and widespread use of hand feeding during winter. However, the evidence they cited that questioned the validity of the widely accepted range succession models in arid environments, comprised of two small trials reported in unpublished FAO reports from 1966 and 1967, and the results of a single study in Israel (Noy-Mier, 1990). Nonetheless, the authors of Rae et al. (2001) also draw from much personal experience in range management, and the discussions provide interesting counter-arguments to commonly held views.
Gaps in Knowledge/Research NeedsTop of page
N. mucronata is one of many invasive plants of arid and semi-arid rangelands that remain little studied, until they become invasive outside of their native range (e.g. Salsola vermiculata, Alhagi maurorum). Also, such dry areas have historically been under-represented in studies on invasive species in general, and merit further investigation. A thorough survey needs to be undertaken that identify and assess the impacts of native invasive plants in dry rangeland areas, and undertaking detailed studies on those of greatest impact and highest risk of further introduction to new areas.
ReferencesTop of page
Bahhady F, 1986. The potential for increasing small ruminant production in the Near East. Small ruminant production in the developing countries [ed. by Timon, V. M. \Hanrahan, J. P.]. Rome, Italy: FAO. [FAO Animal Production And Health Paper 58.]
Benhamouda F; Chouieb M; Chikh M; Lattoui A, 1999. Inventory and the flora cartography methodology using the combination of remote sensing and geographical information system. Case of the Ain Rich region (Algeria). In: Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, IGARSS '99 Proceedings, IEEE 1999 International, Hamburg, Germany, 5. 2566-2568.
Chehregani A; Noori M; Yazdi HL, 2009. Phytoremediation of heavy-metal-polluted soils: screening for new accumulator plants in Angouran mine (Iran) and evaluation of removal ability. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 72(5):1349-1353. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WDM-4W441CX-1&_user=10&_coverDate=07%2F31%2F2009&_rdoc=6&_fmt=high&_orig=browse&_srch=doc-info(%23toc%236770%232009%23999279994%231130181%23FLA%23display%23Volume)&_cdi=6770&_sort=d&_docanchor=&_ct=41&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=2fad863366f8a5243f35706838a4a66c
Fagouri M; Elasraoui M; Elhelafi H, 1996. Native and introduced forage shrub species in grazing lands of eastern Morocco. In: Fodder shrub development in arid and semi-arid zones. Volume 1 [ed. by Gintzburger, G. \Bounejmate, M. \Nefzaoui, A.]. Aleppo, Syria: ICARDA.
GBIF, 2010. Global Biodiversity Information Facility. Global Biodiversity Information Facility. GBIF. http://data.gbif.org/species/
Gintzburger G; Toderich KN; Mardonov BK; Mahmudov MM, 2003. Rangelands of the arid and semi-arid zones in Uzbekistan [ed. by Gintzburger, G.\Toderich, K. N.\Mardonov, B. K.\Mahmudov, M. M.]. Montpellier, France: La Librairie du Cirad, 426 pp.
Hirata M; Koga N; Shinjo H; Fujita H; Gintzburger G; Ishida J; Miyazaki A, 2005. Measurement of above-ground plant biomass, forage availability and grazing impact by combining satellite image processing and field survey in a dry area of north-eastern Syria. Grass and Forage Science, 60(1):25-33. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/servlet/useragent?func=showIssues&code=gfs
ICARDA, 2005. Sustainable agricultural development for marginal dry areas. Khanasser valley integrated research site. Sustainable agricultural development for marginal dry areas. Khanasser valley integrated research site. Aleppo, Syria: ICARDA, 47 pp. http://www.icarda.org/INRMsite/WorkshopBookletFinal_En.pdf
Kaya ÖF; Ketenoglu O; Bingöl MÜ, 2009. A phytosociological investigation on forest and dry stream vegetation of Karacadag (Sanliurfa/Diyarbakir). Kastamonu Üniversitesi Orman Fakültesi Dergisi, 9(2):157-170. http://www.kastamonu.edu.tr/Akademik/Orman/Dergi_O,Orman_Dergi_Dergimiz.html
Koocheki A; Mohalati MN, 1994. Feed value of some halophytic range plants of arid regions of Iran. In: Halophytes as a resource for livestock and for rehabilitation of degraded lands. Proceedings of the international workshop on halophytes for reclamation of saline wastelands and as a resource for livestock problems and prospects, Nairobi, Kenya, 22-27 November 1992 [ed. by Squires, V. R.\Ayoub, A. T.]. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 249-253.
Louhaichi M; Salkini AK; Petersen SL, 2009. Effect of small ruminant grazing on the plant community characteristics of semiarid Mediterranean ecosystems. International Journal of Agriculture and Biology, 11(6):681-689. http://www.fspublishers.org/
Maybodi NB; Zare MT; Abdollahi J, 2007. Effects of 2-decade livestock exclusion on vegetation changes in steppic rangelands of Yazd province. Iranian Journal of Range and Desert Research, 13(4):337-346. HTTP://www.rifr-ac.ir
Morsy AA; Youssef AM; Mosallam HAM; Hashem AM, 2008. Assessment of selected species along Al-Alamein-Alexandria international desert road, Egypt. Journal of Applied Sciences Research, 4(10):1276-1284.
Mossallam HA; Morsy AA; Youssef AM; Al-Latif AHA, 2009. Structure of the common plant population along Alamain-Wadi El-Natrun desert road. Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 3(1):177-193. http://insinet.net/ajbas/2009/177-193.pdf
Rae J; Arab G; Nordblom T; Jani K; Gintzburger G, 2001. Tribes, state, and technology adoption in arid land management, Syria. Tribes, state, and technology adoption in arid land management, Syria. Washington DC, USA: IFPRI. [CAPRi Working Paper No. 15.] http://www.capri.cgiar.org/pdf/CAPRIWP15.pdf
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2009. Flora Europaea, Database of European Plants (ESFEDS). Flora Europaea, Database of European Plants (ESFEDS). Edinburgh, UK: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. http://rbg-web2.rbge.org.uk/FE/fe.html
University of Reading, 2006. Noaea mucronata. Mediterranean Plants Identification & Distribution. Reading, UK: University of Reading Herbarium. http://www.herbarium.rdg.ac.uk/mediplants/resultd.asp?SP=Noaea%20mucronata
USDA-ARS, 2009. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysearch.aspx
OrganizationsTop of page
Syria: International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Aleppo-Damascus Highway, Tel Hayda, Aleppo, http://www.icarda.org/
ContributorsTop of page
08/06/10 Original text by:
Nick Pasiecznik, Consultant, France
Distribution MapsTop of page
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