Beach saltbush is a densely white-scaly prostrate
to decumbent perennial with many short decumbent to erect branches that
is as its name indicates primarily a beach plant. It is often found
on coastal strand and along the foredunes of Southern California's beaches
along with such plants as beach morning glory, silver beach-bur, red
sand verbena, beach primrose, sea-fig and sea rocket. Its many alternate
leaves are sessile, elliptic to widely-ovate, ± rounded at the
apex, and from 1/2" to 1" long, sometimes longer. Beach
saltbush, also known as seascale, is mostly a monoecious plant with
male and female flowers on the same stems with the staminate flowers
in terminal spikes and the pistillate flowers in small axillary clusters.
The staminate flowers are yellowish in color, and the pistillate
flowers are composed only of a single pair of bracts surrounding the
two-styled ovary. The fruiting bracts of saltbushes are fairly
distinctive and important for identification, and those of A. leucophylla
are sessile, fused to the middle or above, somewhat spongy, entire to
dentate above the middle, and with several warty projections or tubercles
on each face. Beach saltbush blooms from April to October. These
pictures were taken along the strand near the Channel Islands National
Park Visitor Center in Ventura.
Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Atriplex
Pronunciation: AT-ri-plex loo-ko-FIL-a.
Click here for Botanical