Family: Amaranthaceae- Amaranth

"Generally monoecious annual, to generally dioecious shrub, generally scaly. Leaf: generally alternate, distal ± reduced; blade entire to variously dentate; anatomy Kranz or non-Kranz (see note). Inflorescence: axillary or terminal. Staminate inflorescence: spheric cluster to spike-like or panicle; bracts 0. Pistillate inflorescence: cluster to spike- or panicle-like, occasionally 1; bracts 2 per fruit, enlarged in age, free to variously fused, generally compressed, generally sessile, falling with fruit (or not). Staminate flower: calyx lobes 3–5; stamens 3–5. Pistillate flower: calyx generally ± 0; stigmas 2. Seed: generally erect." [Jepson 2012]

"[+/-] 250 species: temperate to subtropics worldwide. (Latin: name derived from Greek) [Welsh 2003 FNANM 4:322–381] Generally in alkaline or saline soils; some weedy; some accumulate selenium. Bract descriptions refer to 2 bracts surrounding flower, enlarging in fruit. Australian Atriplex crassipes J.M. Black possibly in South Coast. In this revised taxonomy, Atriplex californica, Atriplex joaquinana moved to Extriplex, Atriplex covillei to Stutzia, both new genera [Zacharias & Baldwin 2010 Syst Bot 35(4):839–857]. Kranz anatomy (observable at 10 ×, sometimes only after scraping off scaly, mealy, or powdery layer) characterized by veins that are darker green than rest of leaf, due to higher concentrations of chloroplasts in bundle-sheath cells surrounding veins." [Jepson 2012]

Additional Notes:

"The genus Atriplex, commonly called orache, atriplex or saltbush, of the family Chenopodiaceae (the goosefoot family), comprises nearly 200 species. The genus has a worldwide distribution, occurring on all continents except Antarctica. Most of the species are halophytes of coastal or inland saline habitats; a few are widespread ruderals of disturbed ground." (Bassett et al. 1983). [E-flora]

Local Species;

  1. Atriplex gmelinii- Gmelin's Orache [PCBC][E-flora]
  2. Atriplex hortensis - Garden Orache [E-flora]
  3. Atriplex patula- Common Orache [PCBC][E-flora]

Atriplex gmelinii - Gmelin's Orache

Use of Atriplex Sp.

Other Uses

A. californica; The long Heshy roots were used as soap by Indians, Mexicans, and early settlers alike. The root was used in the same manner as the Soap Plant, Chenopodium, and the resulting suds were said to be particularly good for washing woolen fabrics. [EuCp. p. 74-75]

Soap Plant - Chenopodium californicum - The large fleshy root was cut into pieces which could be used as cakes of soap or crushed and lathered in water. [EuCp. p. 74-75]

The Indians also made good use of the seeds of this plant, gathering them in large quantities and using them to make mush or brood. The seed was cleaned and parched by tossing with hot coals in a basket. It was then ground and used in several ways. Sometimes the seed was ground without parching and made into the standard mush. This is one of the pinole seeds. [EuCp. p. 74-75]



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