© Copyright: Images: Jouko Lehmuskallio.
All rights reserved.

Salt Bartsia

Odontites litoralis

  • Name also: Red Bartsia
  • Family: Broomrape Family – Orobanchaceae
    (formerly Figwort Family – Scrophulariaceae)
  • Growing form: Annual herb. Taproot small. Hemiparasite.
  • Height: 10–25 cm (4–10 in.). Stem smoothly 4-edged, quite sparsely fine-haired, dirty brown or green; usually unbranched or sometimes upper part sparsely short-branched, branches quite erect, most often flowerless.
  • Flower: Corolla zygomorphic, red, approx. 10 mm (0.4 in.) long, fused, bilabiate, long-tubed, hairy. Upper lip with entire tip or shallowly notched, convex at tip; lower lip 3-lobed, central lobe with notched tip, side lobes round-tipped. Calyx widely campanulate (bell-shaped), 4-lobed, lobes equilaterally triangular, quite blunt. Stamens 4. Gynoecium fused, single-styled, body usually covered by corolla upper lip. Inflorescence one-sided, initially slightly nodding terminal spike.
  • Leaves: Opposite, stalkless, usually slightly shorter than stem internodes. Leaf blade narrowly elliptic–narrowly ovate, blunt-tipped, shallow-toothed, fleshy. Cotyledons often still exist during flowering time.
  • Fruit: Elliptic, hairy, 7–9 mm (0.28–0.36 in.) capsule, longer than calyx, splitting along longitudinal slits.
  • Habitat: Seashore meadows, gravelly and rocky shores.
  • Flowering time: July–August.

Salt bartsia’s more common name is red bartsia but because among species in these pages there already is red bartsia (O. vulgaris), we renamed this one to make the difference clear.

Salt bartsia usually grows on the lower and middle parts of seaside meadows, which are sometimes covered by seawater. It is able to hold its own among other hays and grasses in slightly overcrowded vegetation. Salt bartsia craves companion species: like other members of the species it doesn’t collect all its own nutrition, but steals extra from other plants. As salt bartsia also assimilates itself and only complements its resources by stealing, it is called a hemiparasite as opposed to a parasite, which takes all its nutrition from other plants.

Salt bartsia is endemic to the Baltic region, which is the only place in the world that it grows. In Finland it has split into two subspecies. Ssp. litoralis is usually unbranched or at the most very slightly branched, and it grows almost all around the Baltic area. Its whole stem is reddish and the flowers are dark red. Ssp. fennicus grows around the Gulf of Finland and is more profusely branched. It is not so clearly red and the flowers too are a lighter shade of red.

Salt bartsia, especially ssp. fennicus, bears quite a general resemblance to red bartsia ( O. vulgaris). In shoreside meadows the species may also grow together. Flowering salt bartsia’s pistil’s stem clearly protrudes from the corolla, and after flowering the capsule is roughly as long as the calyx. Flowerless stems can also be recognized by the tattered-tipped leaves.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

Follow us!

Identify species!

Sivun alkuun / Top of the page