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Flaigg, Norman G.
Atriplex canescens (Pursh) Nutt.
Chamiso, Four-wing saltbush, Fourwing saltbush, Wingscale
USDA Symbol: ATCA2
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
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.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Shrub Root Type: Tap Leaf Complexity: Simple Leaf Shape:
Linear Breeding System:
, Dioecious Leaf:
Brown Four-winged Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct
, WY Native Distribution: ND
to Alt. & e. WA,
s. to TX, AZ
& Baja CA Native Habitat:
Dry, barren flats; slopes; washes
Growing ConditionsWater 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
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.
BenefitUse 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
PropagationPropagation Material: Seeds
Description: Increase by seed sown in spring or softwood cuttings taken from late spring to early fall.
Seed Collection: Gather by hand when ripe in late summer or fall. Cleaning or dewinging before storage is not necessary although the bracts contain high accumulations of soluble salts which may inhibit germination. Store seed in cloth or paper bags in a dry, cool place. Seeds must undergo a 10 month period of after-ripening.
Seed Treatment: Germination of many Atriplex species can be increased by presoaking the fruits and then wringing the water and dissolved salts from the material.
Commercially Avail: yes
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Record Last Modified: 2007-01-01
Research By: TWC Staff