E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Atriplex patula L.
common orache (spear saltbush)
Amaranthaceae (Amaranth family)
(Previously in Chenopodiaceae)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Judith Holm  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #71428)

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Distribution of Atriplex patula
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Species Information

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Annual herb from a taproot; stems erect or ascending, simple or branched, 5-80 cm tall.
Lower leaves opposite, upper leaves alternate, stalked or stalkless, 1-10 cm long, lanceolate to broadly lanceolate, 2-4 cm wide, rounded at the base, smooth or toothed, upper leaves green below, others covered with a whitish mealy substance above and below when young, but becoming glabrous and greenish with maturity.
Inflorescence of terminal or axillary spikes or panicles; pistillate bracteoles somewhat basally thickened at maturity, the largest bracteoles somewhat diamond-shaped, margins united almost to the middle, lateral teeth present, densely compressed in the inflorescence, more or less uniform in size, 3-6 mm long.
Membranous pericarps; seeds erect, 1.5-2.5 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic roadsides, waste places and gardens in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; frequent in S BC; probably introduced from Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Additional 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.


Ecological Framework for Atriplex patula

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 0 1 5
Slope Gradient (%) 0 0 2
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
54 54 54
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
5 6 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: CDF(2), CWH(5)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Atriplex hastata sensu Aellen, non L.
Atriplex latifolia Wahlenb.
Atriplex patula subsp. hastata sensu H.M. Hall & Clem. 1923, non (L.) H.M. Hall
Atriplex patula var. bracteata auct. non Westerlund
Atriplex patula var. erecta (Huds.) Lange
Atriplex patula var. hastata auct. non (L.) A. Gray
Atriplex patula var. japonica Level.
Atriplex patula var. patula
Atriplex patula var. triangularis (Willd.) Thorne & S.L. Welsh
Atriplex prostrata var. triangularis (Willd.) Rauschert
Atriplex triangularis Willd.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References