4. Atriplex hortensis Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 1053. 1753.
榆钱菠菜 yu qian bo cai
Herbs annual, to 2 m tall, slightly furfuraceous. Stem erect, stout; branches oblique or spreading, obtusely 4-angled, green striate. Petiole 1-3 mm; leaf blade green on both surfaces, ovate-oblong to ovate-triangular, 5-25 × 3-18 cm, adaxially slightly furfuraceous, base hastate to broadly truncate, margin entire or irregularly serrate, apex subobtuse. Inflorescences axillary and terminal panicles with bisexual and female flowers mixed in glomerules. Bisexual flowers ebracteate; perianth 5-parted; segments oblong; stamens 5, sometimes undeveloped and flowers appearing female; seed horizontal, lenticular, 1.5-2 mm in diam.; testa black, sublustrous, thinly leathery. Female flowers bracteate; perianth absent; fruiting bracts very shortly petiolate, connate only at base, suborbicular, 1-1.5 cm in diam., both surfaces reticulate veined and glabrous, base truncate or slightly emarginate, margins entire, apex acute; seed vertical, compressed globose, 3-4 mm in diam.; testa yellow-brown, not lustrous, usually membranous. Fl. and fr. Aug-Sep.
Cultivated. Hebei, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Nei Mongol, Shaanxi, Shanxi [native to SW Asia and Europe; introduced and cultivated in many regions of the world].
The young plants are used as a vegetable in N China.