Atriplex elegans (Moq.) D. Dietr.  
Family: Amaranthaceae
wheelscale saltbush,  more...
[Atriplex elegans var. thornberi M.E. Jones,  more]
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Max Licher  
Herbs, annual (or sometimes perennial-). Stems ascending or procumbent to erect, stramineous or whitish, simple or much branched at base, obtusely angled in age, mainly 0.5-4.5 dm, slender or stout, scurfy to glabrate. Leaves many, subsessile or shortly petiolate; blade elliptic to spatulate, oblanceolate, oblong, or obovate, 5-30(-35) × 2-8(-12) mm, base cuneate to attenuate, margin entire or irregularly dentate, densely scurfy abaxially, usually green and glabrate adaxially. Staminate flowers with 3-5-parted perianth. Pistillate flowers intermixed with staminate in small axillary clusters. Fruiting bracteoles subsessile or short stipitate, orbiculate, strongly compressed, 2-4 mm and as wide, united except at thin margin, margin dentate, terminal teeth often prominent, faces smooth or with cristate appendages (thornberi phase). Seeds brown, 1-1.5 mm wide.
Plant: Annual ± 1-5 dm; stems decumbent to ascending, ± branched, finely scaly, becoming glabrous Leaves: alternate, entire; blade 5-25 mm, elliptic to oblanceolate, densely white-scaly below, entire to dentate, tapered to basealternate, entire; blade 5-25 mm, elliptic to oblanceolate, densely white-scaly below, entire to dentate, tapered to base INFLORESCENCE: Staminate inflorescence: spike or spheric cluster; bracts 0; Pistillate inflorescence: clusters to spike- or panicle-like; bracts in fruit 2-3.5 mm, fused to near top, round, smooth or with 1 low tubercle, toothe Flowers: Staminate flower: calyx lobes 3-5; stamens 3-5; Pistillate flower: calyx ± 0; ovary ovoid to spheric, style branches 2 Fruit: an utricle; Seed 1, 1-1.5 mm, brown, erect Misc: Saline or alkaline soils, dry lakes; < 1000 m. Notes: Fruit; at maturity inclosed by bractlets, bractlets herbacious and evenly and deeply dentateLeaf; hairs are simple, inflated hairs, grayish or whitish.Inflorescence; in clusters or glomerules.Sepals; staminate flowers have 3-5, pistallate flowers have 2 appressed orbicular bracts. References: Kearney & Peebles; Arizona Flora. McDougall; Seed plants of N. Arizona. Hickman ed.; The Jepson Manual.
Wiggins 1964, FNA 2004
Duration: Annual Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Annual, rarely perennial herb 5-45 cm tall, stems ascending or procumbent to erect, stramineous or whitish, simple or much branched at base, obtusely angled in age, slender or stout, scurfy to glabrate. Leaves: Many, alternate, subsessile or shortly petiolate; blade elliptic to spatulate, oblanceolate, oblong, or obovate 5-30 mm long by 2-8 mm wide, base cuneate to attenuate, margin entire or irregularly dentate, densely scurfy abaxially, usually green and glabrate adaxially. Flowers: Small and inconspicuous; staminate flowers with 3-5 parted perianth; pistillate flowers lacking a perianth, intermixed with staminate flowers in small axillary clusters. Fruits: Fruiting bracteoles subsessile or short stipulate, orbiculate, strongly compressed, 2-4 m long and wide, united except at thin margin, margin dentate, terminal teeth often prominent, faces smooth or with appendages; seeds brown, 1-1.5 mm wide. Ecology: Found in alluvial soils, ditchbanks, field edges, roadsides, washes, generally disturbed soil below 3,500 ft (1067 m); flowers March-August. Distribution: s CA, s NV, AZ, s UT, s NM, s TX; south to c MEX. Notes: Distinguished by being an annual with elliptic leaves that are white-scurfy on the bottom and green on top, with the whole plant being densely farinose, or covered with white mealy (-flour-like-) hairs. Especially identifiable when fruiting by the deeply toothed bracteoles that enclose the seed. Two varieties are recognized: var. elegans from the Chihuahuan to the Sonoran deserts, with bracteole margins dentate to incised with teeth to 0.5-1 mm; and var. fasiculata from the Mojave to Sonoran deserts, with finely toothed bracteole margins, 0.3-0.5 mm, and a strongly samara-like bracteole. Ethnobotany: Pima and Gila boiled the plant with cactus fruits and other foods, to contribute its salty flavor. Etymology: Atriplex is ancient the Latin name for the plant, derived from the plant-s Greek name atraphaxes; elegans means elegant. Synonyms: None Editor: SBuckley 2010, FSCoburn 2015, AHazelton 2015
Atriplex elegans image
Patrick Alexander  
Atriplex elegans image
Patrick Alexander  
Atriplex elegans image
Patrick Alexander  
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