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Atriplex lentiformis (Big saltbush)
Anderson, Wynn

Atriplex lentiformis

Atriplex lentiformis (Torr.) S. Watson

Big Saltbush, Quailbush, Saltbush, Coastal Quail Bush

Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family)


USDA Symbol: atle

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), HI (I)

A widely spreading shrub with can reach 12 ft. in height where the water table is high. The branches are occasionally spiny and the round to somewhat triangular leaves have a scrufy coating lending an olive-green appearance. Greenish flowers occur in profuse, dense, compact panicles and are followed by flattened fruit.


From the Image Gallery

19 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Subshrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Achene
Size Notes: Up to about 12 feet tall.
Leaf: Gray-green

Bloom Information

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


USA: AZ , CA , HI , NV , UT
Native Distribution: S.w. UT & s. NV to AZ & s. CA
Native Habitat: Low, alkaline places

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Moist to dry, saline soils
Conditions Comments: Can become rather rank and is good only for large areas. Ssp. breweri, native to the southern coastal region of CA, is similar in appearance and often used for conservation plantings. It requires full sun and dry soils.


Use Wildlife: Important as wildlife cover and food plants.
Use Food: Used by Native Americans to flavor food due to salty content.
Attracts: Birds

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Saltbush Sootywing
(Hesperopsis alpheus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: Increase by seed or softwood cuttings. Optimum germination occurs in darkness with alternating diurnal temperatures.
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.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright

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 36 - Jepson eFlora (2019) The Jepson Herbarium, University of California, Berkeley

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2022-10-17
Research By: TWC Staff

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