The saltbush, lye ganna or gannabos (Afrikaans), common names of Salsola aphylla, is a large, branched shrub of about 1,8 m. Or just a small shrublet. It does occasionally become a small tree of 4 m in height. Still, S. aphylla has a SA Tree List Number (103.3).
This plant grows in dry watercourses of the hot and arid inland parts of South Africa and southern Namibia; the places where underground water is likely to be retained longest. It also grows on floodplains in loamy and saline soils where it is dry for long periods. It is common in the Karoo, Little Karoo and the Eastern Cape.
Long ago, when settler farmers had to make their own soap or go without, boiled leaves or the ashes of burned stems of this plant were used as lye for home made soap, explaining one of the common names (Coates Palgrave, 2002; Van Wyk and Van Wyk, 1997; Vlok and Schutte-Vlok, 2010).