IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Batis maritima, also known as saltwort, turtleweed, and beachwort. It is also known as pickleweed, barilla, planta de sal, camphire, herbe-à-crâbes, and akulikuli-kai. The many names of this plant come from the many languages of the areas it is found (Lonard, Judd, Stalter, 2011: 441). The conservation status for Batis maritima is G4 or apparently secure (USDA, 2013), but is invasive in Hawaii (Lonard, et al., 2011: 443). In the United States, Batis maritima is found in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands (USDA, 2013).

Batis maritima is a low-lying shrub found growing in salt marshes and mangrove swamps (Lonard et al., 2011: 441; Francis, 2002). B. maritima can reach a height of 1 meter and 5 cm in diameter and has succulent (fleshy/thick tissue) leaves to retain water (Francis, 2002). The flowers are unisexual are likely wind pollinated (Lonard et al., 2011: 445).

Salt tolerance of B. maritima was investigated in Sonora, Mexico (Miyamoto et al., 1996: 142). When B. maritima was irrigated with increasing salinities (1–60 g/l)), the plant was able to take up the water but not reduce the amount of salt in the soils (Miyamoto et al., 1996: 157). For example, the mean salinity in the root zone was 2.7 and 3.2 g/l when irrigated with 1-2 g/l and 68 and 48 g/l when treated with 40 g/l in summer and spring, respectively (Miyamoto et al., 1996: 146).

The presence of B. maritima can promote colonization success of the black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) in denuded areas along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, Florida (Milbrandt & Tinsley, 2006: 369). Seedling mortality of A. germinans was approximately 70% when growing with B. maritima and also where B. maritima root structure was intact but aboveground biomass was removed. By comparison, mortality was approximately 90% when planted in open areas (Milbrandt & Tinsley, 2006: 374). At 1600 Eastern Daylight Time, maximum and range in temperatures was greater in the open mudflats (44 °C and 16 °C) than in B. maritima patches (35 °C and 6.5 °C) (Milbrandt & Tinsley, 2006: 375).

Batis maritima was found to have methyl chloride transferase which is an enzyme used to catalyze the transfer of methyl chloride from the chloride ion is the methyl group (Ni & Hager, 1998: 12866). Ni & Hager (1998: 12871) speculate that the enzyme is used to maintain chloride ion concentrations in the cytoplasm by releasing excess chloride as methyl chloride in the atmosphere rather than directly into the soil.


Francis, J. 2002. Batis maritima L. U.S. Department of Agriculture; available at: http://ww.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/pdf/shrubs/Batis%20maritima.pdf; accessed on Feb 10, 2013.

Lonard, R.I., Judd, F. W., & Stalter, R. 2011. The biological flora of coastal dunes and wetlands: Batis maritima C. Linnaeus. Journal of Coastal Research 27: 441-449. doi:10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-10-00142.1; accessed on Feb 10, 2013.

Milbrandt, E.C. & Tinsley, M.N. 2007. The role of salwort (Batis maritima L.) in regeneration of degraded mangrove forests Hydrobiologia 568: 369-377.

Miyamoto, S., Glenn, E.P., & Olsen, M.W. 1994. Growth, water use and salt uptake of four halophytes irrigated with highly saline water. Journal of Arid Environments 32: 141-159.

Ni, X. & Hager, L.P. 1998. cDNA cloning of Batis maritima methyl chloride transferase and purification of the enzyme. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 95: 12866-12871.

USDA. 2013. United States Department of Agriculture and the Natural Resources Conservation Service: Batis maritima; available at: http://plants.usda.gov/java/ClassificationServlet?source=profile&symbol=BAMA5&display=63; accessed in April 18, 2013.


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