Atriplex hortensis L.
garden orache (French spinach)
Amaranthaceae (Amaranth family)
(Previously in Chenopodiaceae)

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Jamie Fenneman     (Photo ID #19676)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Atriplex hortensis
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Species Information

Annual herb from a taproot; stems decumbent to erect, freely branched, mostly 0.6-2.5 m tall/long.
Lower leaves opposite, upper leaves alternate, stalked or stalkless, broadly lanceolate to egg-shaped, 5-20 cm long, 2-10 cm wide, blunt to arrowhead-shaped at the base, smooth or slightly toothed or undulate, covered with a whitish mealy substance when young but becoming glabrous and greenish with maturity.
Inflorescence of terminal or axillary spikes or panicles; pistillate flowers of 3 kinds, one with a small calyx and no bracteoles, one with small rounded bracteoles and the third with no calyx but 2 large, 6-12 mm wide, rounded bracteoles, these without teeth, veins merging above the base.
Membranous pericarps; seeds of the pistillate flowers without bracteoles, horizontal, small, black, those of the pistillate flowers with more or less heart-shaped bracteoles or the bracteoles rounded at the base, vertical, black or brown and about 2 mm wide.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.

Habitat and Range

Mesic to dry roadsides and waste places in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; infrequent garden escape in S BC; introduced from Asia.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Atriplex acuminata Waldst. & Kit.
Atriplex hortensis subsp. nitens (Schkuhr) E. Pons
Atriplex hortensis var. atrosanguinea hort.
Atriplex hortensis var. rubra L.
Atriplex nitens Schkuhr nom. illeg.

Taxonomic Notes

"The genus Atriplex, commonly called orache, atriplex or saltbush, of the family Chenopodiaceae (the goosefoot family), comprises nearly 200 species. The genus has a worldwide distribution, occurring on all continents except Antarctica. Most of the species are halophytes of coastal or inland saline habitats; a few are widespread ruderals of disturbed ground." (Bassett et al. 1983).


Bassett, I. J., C. W. Crompton, J. McNeill and P. M. Taschereau. 1983. The genus Atriplex (Chenopodiaceae) in Canada. Monograph #31, Agriculture Canada, Ottawa.