Atriplex prostrata DC.

Arrowleaf Saltbush, Spearscale, Fat-hen
Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family)


Arrowleaf saltbush, aka spearscale or fat-hen, went by the former name Atriplex triangularis, and before that patula ssp. hastata, the subspecific epithet referring to the shape of the leaves.  It is a simple- to many-branched, trailing to erect annual typically found in moist saline soil near the coast.  The herbage is glabrous to slightly mealy, and the leaves are alternate, green, the lower especially triangular, hastate to deltoid and entire to wavy-margined. As a monoecious species, each plant contains both staminate and pistillate flowers. The inflorescence is generally panicle-like with the flowers on interrupted spikes.  The staminate flowers have a 5-cleft calyx, no petals and 5 stamens. The bracts which subtend and eventually enclose or surround the pistillate ovary are fused at the base, ovate to deltate and short-tubercled. In addition to coastal salt marsh areas, arrowleaf saltbush may also be found in alkali sink localities in interior valleys but still at fairly low elevations.  The blooming period is June to November.  The Jepson Manual 2nd edition also lists it as a native of Eurasia. These photographs were taken at the McGrath State Beach in Ventura County.

Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Atriplex 2) prostrata.
Pronunciation: AT-ri-plex pros-TRAY-ta.
Click here for Botanical Term Meanings.