Atriplex hymenelytra

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Atriplex hymenelytra
California Death Valley Ubehebe plant.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Amaranthaceae
Genus: Atriplex
Species: A. hymenelytra
Binomial name
Atriplex hymenelytra
Torr. ex S.Wats.

Atriplex hymenelytra, or Desert Holly, is a silvery colored shrub of Southwestern United States deserts.[1] It is the most drought tolerant saltbush in North America.[1] It can tolerate the hottest and driest sites in Death Valley, and remains active most of the year.[1]

Range and habitat[edit]

Desert holly grows in alkaline locations such as dry washes in creosote bush scrub in the Mojave Desert and Sonoran Desert down to Baja California.[1][2]


It is generally a rounded bush covered in distinctive reflective silver-gray, twisted, oblong, many-pointed leaves. It grows as a shrub ranging from 8" to 48".[1]

The silvery gray leaves are shaped like wavy holly leaves. The silvery color is from salts that collect on surface hairs.[1] This helps reflect the light and therefore reduce the amount of water lost.

The fruits are enclosed in disc-shaped bracteoles after flowering.[2]

The toothed leaves and the small reddish fruits borne on the plant give it a passing resemblance to the unrelated European holly.[2]

In its hot and dry natural habitat, male and female flowers occur on separate plants, but when artificially transplanted to cooler and wetter climates, male and female flowers may occur on the same plant.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Mojave Desert Wildflowers, Pam Mackay, 2nd ed., p 271
  2. ^ a b c,3089,3112 Jepson

External links[edit]