Atriplex triangularis Willd.


=Atriplex patula ssp. hastata


Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family)


North America & Eurasia




Spear Orache   


Halberd-Leaved Saltbush


                    September Photo


Plant Characteristics:  Annual, simple to much-branched, glabrous or slightly mealy, the lower branches widely divergent, 3-10 dm. long; lvs. green, broadly triangular-to ovate-hastate, often dentate, 3-8 cm. long; infl. interrupted-spiciform, only the lower glomerules with leafy bracts; fruiting bracts rhombic-oval, green, truncate or broadly rounded at base, 2-5 mm. long, mostly smooth, united at base; seed 1-2 mm. long.


Habitat:  Common in moist saline places along the coast and in interior valleys; Alkali Sink, Coastal Salt Marsh; to B.C., Atlantic Coast.  June-Nov.  Below 300 m.


Name:  Atriplex, the ancient Latin name.  (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 352).  Latin, patulus, spread out and Latin, hastatus, spear-shaped. (Jaeger 116, 184).  Latin, tri, three and angularis, corner.  (Jaeger 19,270).  Triangularis, having three corners, referring to the triangle shaped leaves.  (my comment).


General:  Very common in the study area.  Photographed on the Castaway's Beach, North Star Beach and at 23rd Street.  (my comments).       May be used as a substitute for spinach.  The leaves have a natural salt content that blends well with a little lemon.  Palatable raw but is best cooked without salt as a potherb.  (Clarke 166).      There are both staminate and pistillate flowers occurring on the same plant, either together or in separate spikes.  The staminate flowers have 3 to 5 sepals and 5 stamens; the pistillate has a single pistil surrounded by a pair of bracts.  (Robbins et al. 145).        The 1925 Jepson describes 29 species of Atriplex as occurring in California.  (Robbins et al. 142).      The 1993 Jepson describes 53 species, subspecies and varieties of Atriplex occurring in California.  (my comment).        A beige dye can be made from the stems.  (lecture by Charlotte Clarke, author of Edible and Useful Plants of California, April 1987).       A. patula ssp. patula misapplied.  (Hickman, Ed. 505).


Text Ref:  Hickman, Ed. 505; Munz, Calif. Flora 375; Munz, Flora So. Calif. 357; Robbins et al. 143.

Photo Ref:  July 1 83 # 10; Sept 1 83 # 5; May 1 84 # 8.

Identity: by R. De Ruff, confirmed by G. Marsh.

First Found:  July 1983.


Computer Ref:  Plant Data 216.

Have plant specimen.

Last edit 6/7/04.  


                                 June Photo                                                                       April Photo