Thursday, April 15, 2010

A salt bush of the southwestern United States: Atriplex lentiformis

Atriplex lentiformis is one of the salt bush species of the goosefoot family (Chenopodiaceae) that is found in California and northern Mexico. The most common names for this plant are quailbush, big saltbrush, or big saltbush. The latter names suggest that it is a plant with a high tolerance for salinity. It also is drought and calcium carbonate (CaCO3) tolerant and loves sunshine. The typical habitats include salt-marshes and coastal areas with saline or alkaline soils. I found the one shown in the picture somewhat away from the coast between the La Brea tar pits in Hancock Park in Los Angeles, where it grows next to arroyo willows (Salix lasiolepis) near the Pleistocene Garden. The highly branched shrub bears scaly gray-green leaves that are slightly rippled along the edges—looking a little bit like green tongues. The leaves are said to be edible, but I brought my own lunch.

[1] USDA Plants Profile: Atriplex lentiformis, big saltbush.
[2] Plants for a future: Atriplex lentiformis, quail bush.

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