Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Atriplex canescens

Chamiso, Four-wing saltbush, Wing-scale

Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family)

Atriplex canescens (Chamiso)
Flaigg, Norman G.
Four-wing saltbush is a 3 ft., semi-evergreen shrub which can reach 8 ft. Summer flowers are insignificant, but the clusters of gold-tan, four-winged fruits, which occur on female plants only, are showy. The branches and small, narrow leaves of this mound-shaped shrub are covered with a dense, silvery pubescence. Extremely variable shrub: compact and rounded; sprawling and low; to open-branched and treelike.

There are many varieties of Four-winged Saltbush. The plant is known to hybridize with at least a dozen other Atriplex species, and new forms and varieties continue to arise.

Image Gallery:

6 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Linear
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Dioecious
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Brown Four-winged
Size Class: 6-12 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct


USA: AZ , CA , CO , ID , KS , MT , NE , NV , NM , ND , OK , OR , SD , TX , UT , WA , WY
Native Distribution: ND to Alt. & e. WA, s. to TX, AZ & Baja CA
Native Habitat: Dry, barren flats; slopes; washes

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Alkaline, well-drained soils. Saline tolerant, Caliche type, Limestone-based, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam Clay Loam Clay Calcareous
Conditions Comments: Will work in extremely dry, salty conditions and in recommended for its durability rather than its beauty. Useful for stabilizing soil and providing wildlife cover. Saltbush can be very invasive and difficult to eradicate, especially in wetlands. Severe pruning produces better specimens. If planting in a rabbit or deer area, plants will need to be caged until foliage reaches 3-4 ft.


Use Ornamental: Showy, Fall conspicuous, Fruits ornamental, Erosion control
Use Wildlife: Important as wildlife cover and food plants. Fruit-mammals, Fruit-birds, Nectar-bees, Nectar-insects
Warning: This plant may accumulate levels of the soil mineral selenium that makes it toxic to livestock.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Atriplex canescens is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
San Emigdio Blue
(Plebejus emigdionis)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Mohave Sootywing
(Hesperopsis libya)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Saltbush Sootywing
(Hesperopsis alpheus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2015-12-19