Atriplex californica Moq.

California Saltbush
Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family)


California saltbush is a low, usually prostrate, monoecious perennial with many much-branched spreading-to-decumbent stems which inhabits sandy soils on sea bluffs, and in coastal dunes and salt marshes.  It is an inconspicuous plant which is easily missed unless one knows what one is looking for. Typically less than 2' or so in diameter, it has lanceolate to elliptic gray-scurfy leaves, mostly alternate but the lowest sometimes almost opposite, quite crowded and sessile, acute-tipped, and about 1/2"-3/4" long. California saltbush is a monoecious species with male and female flowers on the same plant, either both in mixed axillary clusters, or the staminate flowers in terminal spikes. The pistillate bracts which enclose the ovary (and developing fruit) are ovate to ± round, sessile and mostly distinct (that is, not fused) with smooth sides, and the seed is tiny and black.  It is found along the coast and on the Channel Islands, blooming from April to November.  These pictures were taken at Torrey Pines State Reserve.

Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Atriplex  2) californica.
Pronunciation: AT-ri-plex ka-li-FOR-ni-ka.
Click here for Botanical Term Meanings.