Botanical name: Atriplex
Botanical name: Atriplex
Saltbushes are aptly named as these plants are "halophytes," meaning they can tolerate environments with very high levels of salt. Perhaps unsurprisingly then, they are most commonly found in two habitat types: along saltwater shorelines and in deserts with salty soils. Saltbush ability to grow where most other plants can't make them important food and shelter sources for animals (especially insects) in environments that would otherwise be mostly barren.
Species of Saltbush
Crested saltbush is native to India and Sri Lanka, where it grows wild in marshes and alongside the ocean. The small shrub produces flowers in the summer and fruit in the fall.
Silverscale saltbush (Atriplex argentea) is an annual herb species that is native to western North America. This species generally grows in salty soil, giving it its common name. The other part of the name comes from the gray scales that coat its stems and leaves.
Saltbush is a shrub native to the Mediterranean basin and some surrounding areas. Because it is extremely tolerant of drought, it is often grown as fodder, and it has also been used for food. Ancient Jewish tradition and Hebrew history claim this shrub was foraged as food by poor people returning from exile.
Shadscale saltbush is a low-growing, spiny species of evergreen brush that grows in arid regions. Its distribution occurs throughout the western part of North America, from Oregon and California, east to North Dakota and south to Texas and Arizona. The plant provides cover and food for wildlife and livestock that roam through the arid environment.
Desertholly saltbush (Atriplex hymenelytra) is indigenous to the southwestern United States. You’ll find it in the most arid of deserts because it’s the most drought-tolerant saltbush in all of North America. It even thrives in Death Valley, one of the driest and hottest places on the planet.
The frosted orache is an annual herbaceous plant with a whitish-silvery surface. Its downward (ascending) stem is mostly branched with a length of usually 20 to 30 cm (rarely up to 60 cm ) with smooth or slightly edged reddish-yellow branches. The leaves are arranged alternately on the stem (with the exception of the lowest).
Tumbling saltweed (Atriplex rosea) is an annual herb species with erect, hairless stems. Tumbling saltweed is native to Eurasia. This species is also known as tumbling saltbush, red orach, and redscale.
Australian saltbush (Atriplex semibaccata) is a plant species in the Amaranthaceae family that grows to be around 1.8 m wide. This species flowers all year and is often planted for ornamental ground cover. Australian saltbush is native to coastal regions of southern Australia.
Other, more descriptive names for Atriplex prostrata include fat-hen, mat saltbush, spade leaf, and creeping saltbush. Some of the names include "saltbush" because it thrives best in saline environments. That’s why you’ll find this weed growing along beaches and roadsides where there are salt deposits. Its leaves are shaped much like arrowheads.
Chamiso (Atriplex canescens) is an evergreen shrub that is native to the western USA. The plant has strong cultural significance to the Zuni Native Americans and is used in rituals to ensure good hunting. The peculiar four-winged fruits give the shrub its name. The chamiso naturally hybridizes with several other species of Atriplex.
People used to use garden orache as a substitute for spinach and later as a decorative plant because its leaves can be green and purple. People have also used it to extract a dye close to indigo. It produces spikes of small flowers and reproduces by seed. This is a very resistant plant that can tolerate heat and drought, and can also grow on poor or saline soil.
Spear saltbush is a shrub that attracts Asian hornets to its flowers, as well as a variety of other pollinators. This plant collects salt from the environment and stores it in its tissues, lowering salt content in the soil, which proves to be beneficial in areas with high road salt contamination.
Big saltbush (Atriplex lentiformis) is edible and tastes salty—hence the name. Salt in its leaves makes it particularly good at extracting water from the ground. Rabbits love to dine on it. Therefore, if you're growing it in your garden, cage it until it's higher than rabbit height. It's indigenous to northern Mexico and the southwestern United States.
OrderPinks, cacti, and allies