Atriplex watsonii Nelson

Watson's Saltbush, Matscale
Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family)


Watson's saltbush or matscale is a prostrate, densely white-scurfy perennial forming low tangled mats 1'-3' in diameter.  The numerous opposite leaves are sessile and broadly elliptic to ovate, entire-margined and somewhat thick to almost fleshy.  This saltbush is a dioecious species with staminate flowers in short terminal spikes and inconspicuous pistillate flowers in small axillary clusters on different plants.  The staminate flowers are composed of a several-lobed calyx and 3-5 stamens, and the pistillate flowers have no petals or sepals, only the two compressed bracts which develop around the ovary.  Each pistil has two styles.  The fruiting bracts are ovate to rhombic, sessile, 3/16" to 1/4" long, and united to above the middle, with flat-surfaced sides.  The seed is a flattened, light brown utricle.  Matscale can be found on coastal bluffs and beaches, coastal strand and coastal salt marsh from Santa Barbara County south including the Channel Islands and Santa Catalina Id., blooming from March to October.  These pictures were taken at Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve.

Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Atriplex 2) watsonii.
Pronunciation: AT-ri-plex wat-SEW-nee-eye.
Click here for Botanical Term Meanings.


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