What is iodine
Many members of this family are halophytes. That means they are tolerant of extreme environments in which other plants can not survive. This particular species is tolerant of soils that contain an appreciable amount of salt. Iodine bush grows in moist places, some of which are so saline that no other plant can tolerate the habitat.(Anderson 1986). Since they can tolerate high concentrations of salt in the soil, they play a vital role in many parts of the world such as the coasts of the Mediterranean, Caspian and Red seas, the flora of the steppes of Central Asia as well as the alkali plains of the SW U.S.(deWit 1966). Members of this family grow as weeds in "saline soils near human habitations and especially bomb sites"(deWit 1966).
iodine bush look like?
This shrub is rarely more than 4 feet tall ranging from between 30 centimeters and 1 meter high(Mozingo 1987). A low, straggly branching woody shrub that has round, succulent, gray-green, jointed stems that ascend from a woody root. Its name probably comes from the salty-bitter iodine taste of its saltwater-filled tissue. It has distinctive succulent green segments along the stem arranged in a chain, much like miniatur sausages (Harrison 1993). Iodine bush leaves are reduced and scale-like. Its older branches turn dark purplish brown. The stems have an interesting tart, salty flavor. Inconspicuous flowers are produced on short scaly spikes(Anderson 1996).
Iodine bush is similar to
the annual pickleweed and inweeds in appearance. The difference between
the two is that pickleweed has leaves that are opposite on the stem while
Iodine bush has alternate leaves wiht a distinctive opposite branching
pattern. Also, iodine bush is a shrub not a solitary plant as is pickleweed.
The woody stems branch alternately which distinguishes it from the annual
pickleweed which has and must reproduce from seed each year. Iodine
bush will tolerate salt up to 3-4%, but it grows best in 1-1.5% in a zone
with a reliable supply of water (Harrison 1993).
Extensive stands of iodine bush can be seen in the desolate saline areas west of Salt Lake City, where it usually occupies low hummocks on the salt flats. Allenrolfea is directly responsible for the formation of these hummocks by capturing windblown sand. Iodine bush produces underground runners which assist in its spread(Mozingo 43 1987).
The [geographic] range of
iodine bush includes California, east to Colorado, New Mexico, and western
Texas, and south into northern Mexico. It is abundant on the alkaline flats
of southern and northern nevada and extends northward to eastern Oregon(Mozingo
iodine bush live in such an extreme environment?
There have been many studies on Allenrolfea occidentalis to determine how this plant has adapted to live in its high saline environment. The following experiments have tried to explain how this plant has been studied because of its unique adaptation to its environment. Like many of the plants and animals that also live on the Great Salt Lake Playa, they have adapted by the process of natural selection to be tolerant of excess salt content in the water and the soil. Gul Bilquees and Darrell Weber of BYU in Utah 1998, studied how salt effects seed germination on iodine bush. Another study was conducted in 1988 by Chrominski, Halls, Weber, and Smith also at BYU studying how iodine bush deals with the excess salt in its tissues.
iodine bush's role in the food web?
Chrominski A., Halls S., Weber, D.J., Smith B.N. 1988 "Proline affects ACC to Ethylene Conversion under Salt and Water Stresses in the Halophyte Allenrolfea occidentalis" Department of Botany and Range Science, BYU Provo, Utah.
Gul, Bilquees, and Weber, Darrell J 1998 "Effect of dormancy Relieving Compounds on the Seed Germination of Non-dormancy Allenrolfea occidentalis under Salinity Stress" Department of Botany and Range Sciences, BYU Provo, UT.
deWit, H.C.D. 1966 Plants of the World E.P. Dutton and Co., Inc. Netherlands, New York. pp. 202-205
Harrison, A.T. 1993. The Salty Shore of Great Salt Lake: A Natural History. Unpublished.
Mozingo, Hugh N, 1987 Shrubs of the Great Basin. A Natural History University of Nevada Press, Las Vegas, Nevada pp 43-45.
Nelson, Ruth Ashton, 1969 Handbook of Rocky Mountain Plants Dale Stuart King, Pub. Tuscon, Arizona. pp. 113
Waisel, Yoav. 1972 Biology of Halophytes Ed. by T.T. Kozlowski, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Utah State University Geography Department online, http://www.nr.usu.edu/Geography-Department/ utgeog/utvatlas/family/chen/aloc2.html (November 1999)
Arizona State University
Vascular Plant Herbarium (1997, Revised August 31, 1999) <http://ls.la.asu.edu/herbarium/images/chen/allocc2.jpg>
CREATED BY PAIGE WALKER