Suaeda calceoliformis (Seablite)

Plant Info
Also known as: American Seablite, Pursh's Seepweed, Horned Seepweed
Family:Amaranthaceae (Amaranth)
Life cycle:annual
Habitat:sun; saline or alkaline soil; marshes, shores, prairie swales, salted roadsides
Bloom season:June - September
Plant height:3 to 30 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: spike

[photo of flower clusters] Tiny flowers are tightly packed in small clusters (glomes) in a spike-like arrangement at the top of the stem and arising from leaf axils, with 3 to 5 flowers in a cluster. Flowers are up to 1/6 inch diameter (1 to 4 mm), lack petals, have 2 short stamens and a round, green ovary with a 2-parted style at the tip.

[close-up of glomes] Cupping the flower is a green calyx with 5 fleshy, somewhat angular lobes each with 1 or 2 horn-like extensions at the tip; at least one lobe is usually larger than the others. At the base of a glome is a leaf-like bract up to ½ inch long that has thin, translucent edging near the base. The calyx, stalks and bracts are all smooth and hairless.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate, fleshy, mostly ascending to nearly erect, 3/8 to 1½ inches long, hairless, toothless, stalkless, lance-linear, pointed or with a small, whitish, abrupt point at the tip. Stems are erect to sprawling, usually branched, hairless, often striped red and green, and have a waxy coating. Plants are initially green but often turn dark red all over, or spotted with dark red.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed_without_plume

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is a dry seed enclosed in the persistent ovary shell (pericarp) that easily separates from the seed. Seeds are flattened round to egg-shaped, .8 to 1.7 mm long, shiny black or dull brown.


Seablite is an uncommon species of saline and alkaline soils in our western counties, most often in wet-mesic prairies and prairie swales but is known to inhabit salted roadsides as well, which is where it was found in St. Louis County. It is considered rare in the salt marshes of coastal New England but is more common to our west. Where it is encountered it often forms large mats that turn dark red, much like the rare Red Saltwort (Salicornia rubra), with which it may grow, but which has scale-like leaves that overlap like a cedar branch.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in North Dakota. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Kittson and Lac Qui Parle counties and in North Dakota.


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