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You only realize just how prickly this plant is when you touch it, purposely or by accident. Each leaf of the prickly saltwort ends in a sharp needle. In earlier days, prickly saltwort was used for making soap. It was an important source of soda ash. When burned, as much as 30% of the ash contains sodium carbonate, one of the essential elements for making soap and even glass! This explains one of the other names for this plant, prickly glasswort. Since the 19th century, the majority of soda ash is produced synthetically. Like several other members of its family, the wind blows the dried up plant over open plains like a tumbleweed.


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