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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 4 | Chenopodiaceae | Atriplex

55. Atriplex polycarpa (Torrey) S. Watson, Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts. 9: 117. 1874.

Desert saltbush, cattle-spinach

Obione polycarpa Torrey in War Department [U.S.], Pacif. Railr. Rep. 4(5): 130. 1857; Atriplex curvidens Brandegee

Shrubs, dioecious or sub-monoecious, mainly 10-20 dm. Leaves tardily deciduous, alternate, sessile or nearly so; blade spatulate to obovate or oblong, 3-15(-2.) × 2-4 mm, margin entire, apex typically acute. Staminate flowers appearing silvery, in clusters 1.5-3 mm wide, borne in paniculate, naked spikes 5-25 cm; anthers yellow. Pistillate flowers with fruiting bracteoles sessile, cuneate-orbicular to semicircular, 1.5-2.5 × 2-3 mm, united to near middle, margin deeply laciniate-dentate, tuberculate or sometimes smooth dorsally. Seeds pale brown, 1-1.5 mm. 2n = 18, 36.

Flowering spring-fall. Warm desert shrub communities (creosote bush, ambrosia, shadscale, mesquite, saltgrass, etc.), mainly in fine-textured saline substrates; 60-1500 m; Ariz., Calif., Nev., Utah; n Mexico (Baja California to Sonora).

Atriplex polycarpa consists of two or more chromosomal races based on different polyploid levels. The races form hybrids with Atriplex canescens in south California, resulting in partially stabilized entities known as varieties laciniata and macilenta. The plants evidently form hybrids with A. lentiformis.


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