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Atriplex confertifolia (Shadscale)
Anderson, Wynn

Atriplex confertifolia

Atriplex confertifolia (Torr. & Frém.) S. Watson

Shadscale, Spiny Saltbush, Shadscale Saltbush, Hop Sage

Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family)

Synonym(s): Atriplex collina, Atriplex jonesii, Atriplex subconferta


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Shadscale or spiny saltbush is an erect, rigidly branched, spiny, rounded shrub, 1-3 ft. high. Persistent, velvety-gray leaves are densely crowded on scurfy branches which may become shiny and leafless. Attractive, summer flowers are followed by masses of creamy-yellow seed clusters.


From the Image Gallery

6 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Subshrub
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Margin: Entire
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Fruit Type: Achene
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.
Leaf: Green.
Fruit: Two-winged.

Bloom Information

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


USA: AZ , CA , CO , ID , MT , ND , NM , NV , OR , TX , UT , WY
Native Distribution: W. ND to e. OR, s. to n. & w. TX & n. AZ
Native Habitat: Alkaline desert valleys; hillsides; bluffs

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Dry, rocky or sandy, alkaline soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Limestone-based, Caliche type, Calcareous.
Conditions Comments: Very salt and alkaline tolerant. Thrives on adversity. Will tolerate, but not do well, in clay.


Description: Increase by spring-sown seed or softwood cuttings.
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 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

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Atriplex confertifolia in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Atriplex confertifolia in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Atriplex confertifolia


Record Modified: 2022-11-23
Research By: TWC Staff

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