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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Glasswort \Glass"wort`\, n. (Bot.) A seashore plant of the Spinach family ( Salicornia herbacea), with succulent jointed stems; also, a prickly plant of the same family ( Salsola Kali), both formerly burned for the sake of the ashes, which yield soda for making glass and soap.


n. 1 Any plant of the salt-tolerant genus ''Salicornia'', once burned to produce the ash used to make soda glass. 2 Other salt-tolerant plants, especially those used to produce such ash. 3 # Species of the European genus (taxlink Sarcocornia genus noshow=1) 4 # Species of the Australian genus (taxlink Tecticornia genus noshow=1) 5 # (taxlink Arthrocnemum subterminale species noshow=1) 6 # (taxlink Eriogonum salicornioides species noshow=1) 7 # ''Kali turgida'', formerly (taxlink Salsola kali species noshow=1) 8 Other plants called samphire. 9 # (vern: rock samphire), (taxlink Crithmum maritimum species noshow=1) 10 # (vern: golden samphire), (taxlink Inula crithmoides species noshow=1)

  1. n. bushy plant of Old World salt marshes and sea beaches having prickly leaves; burned to produce a crude soda ash [syn: saltwort, barilla, kali, kelpwort, Salsola kali, Salsola soda]

  2. fleshy maritime plant having fleshy stems with rudimentary scalelike leaves and small spikes of minute flowers; formerly used in making glass [syn: samphire, Salicornia europaea]


The common name glasswort came into use in the 16th century to describe plants growing in England whose ashes could be used for making soda-based (as opposed to potash-based) glass. The glassworts are succulent, annual " halophytes", or plants that thrive in saline environments, such as seacoasts and salt marshes. While the original English glasswort plants belong to the genus Salicornia, the term has been extended over the years to halophyte plants from several genera, some of which are native to continents unknown to the medieval English, and growing in ecosystems, such as mangrove swamps, never envisioned when the term glasswort was coined.

Usage examples of "glasswort".

Also a Salicornia, or jointed Glasswort, or Saltwort, or Crabgrass, is sold as Samphire for a pickle, in the Italian oil shops.

The Garden Orache and the Arrach, the Sea Beet and the Glassworts are other native plants belonging to this large family, which has about 600 members.