A native plant of Australia, the Ruby Saltbush (Enchylaena tomentosa) is also commonly known as barrier saltbush.

A spreading shrub (that can be sometimes straggly in looks), with semi-succulent leaves, bluish-green to grey in colour and densely covered with short hairs. The shrub can grow up to a metre in height and has an edible fruit about 5 mm across. The fruit changes colour as it ripens, from green through yellow, orange, red and black.

The ripe fruit can be picked and eaten raw, being described as salty-sweet. It is picked by the desert Aboriginal people as a snack food, although mainly eaten by children1. The indigenous groups in Central Australia have been recorded as soaking the fruit in water to make a sweetened tea.

A bird attracting plant that is usually found growing under taller trees.


  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Clade: Tracheophytes
  • Clade: Angiosperms
  • Clade: Eudicots
  • Order: Caryophyllales
  • Family: Amaranthaceae
  • Genus: Enchylaena
  • Species: E. tomentosa
  • Binomial name: Enchylaena tomentosa

Footnote & References

  1. Enchylaena tomentosa (ruby saltbush), Bushfires & Bushtucker by Peter Latz, IAD Press, Alice Springs, NT, ISBN: 0-949659-96-7, p166
  2. Enchylaena tomentosa, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Enchylaena_tomentosa&oldid=997683730 (last visited Apr. 6, 2021).