Also refugees from the Goosefoot family, Glassworts are a group of similar annuals, all with tiny differences in inflorescences and branching. They all share succulent, fleshy stems and look more like desert plants. Because they grow on muddy spaces near the low tide line of salt marshes where the continuous rising and falling of salty sea water draws moisture from the plant, succulence was an evolutionary imperative. They can be found scattered around the Scottish coasts, particularly in the South and West. At times they are so plentiful that acres of salt marsh can appear covered by nothing else.
Stems are upright, yellowish-green, glabrous and translucent. They appear segmented, and the leaves look like segments of stem, being succulent with a blunt tip. Stalk-less leaves grow in opposite pairs on the stems. The flowers, tiny, green and partly sunken into the stem segments towards the tip, form a tapered spike. They are a 3-lobed, round, succulent pod-like structure with 3 reddish stigmas poking out the top like wigwam poles and 1 stamen.
Glasswort absorbs the sodium in salt water into its cells, and yields soda-ash when burnt. In the 16th century the ash from Glasswort was an important ingredient in glass making.