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Atriplex patula

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Atriplex patula

Secure  (NatureServe)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Amaranthaceae
Genus: Atriplex
A. patula
Binomial name
Atriplex patula

Atriplex patula (spear saltbush; common orache; spear orach; spreading orach; /ˈɒrə/[1]) is a ruderal, circumboreal species of annual herbaceous plant in the genus Atriplex naturalized in many temperate regions.


Atriplex patula grows to be between 50 and 80 centimetres (20 and 31 inches) tall.[2] The branches extend outwards from the stem with rhomboid leaves and separated clusters of flowers.[2] The species accumulates salt from the environment in its tissues. Unlike other Atriplex species, it lacks notable salt bladders to excrete salt onto the leaves.[3]


The species was a member of the family Chenopodiaceae, now part of Amaranthaceae, the amaranth family.[2]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The species has a wide range, including semi-arid deserts and coastal areas in Asia, North America, Europe, and Africa.[2] It commonly grows along roads and waste sites.[4]

Although it is commonly asserted that the species has been naturalized in North America only since the 18th century,[5][6] seeds ascribed to this species occur on the west coast of North America in buried marsh deposits that predate European contact.[7][8]


The young leaves and shoots are edible raw or cooked and suffice as a spinach substitute.[9]

The species has been proven to be effective in lowering salt content in soils when planted in areas with high road salt contamination.[3]


  1. ^ "orache". Oxford English Dictionary third edition. Oxford University Press. June 2004. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Sukhorukov, Alexander; Kushunina, Maria; Verloove, Filip (2016-07-14). "Notes on Atriplex, Oxybasis and Dysphania (Chenopodiaceae) in West-Central Tropical Africa". Plant Ecology and Evolution. 149 (2): 249–256. doi:10.5091/plecevo.2016.1181.
  3. ^ a b Mann, Ellen; Rutter, Allison; Zeeb, Barbara (October 2020). "Evaluating the efficacy of Atriplex spp. in the phytoextraction of road salt (NaCl) from contaminated soil". Environmental Pollution. 265 (Pt B): 114963. doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2020.114963. PMID 32806446. S2CID 221162683.
  4. ^ Prokopiev, I. A.; Filippova, F. V.; Shein, A. A. (March 2012). "Effect of anthropogenic pollution with dust containing heavy metals on seed progeny of spear saltbush". Russian Journal of Plant Physiology. 59 (2): 212–216. doi:10.1134/S1021443712020148. ISSN 1021-4437. S2CID 17780607.
  5. ^ Atriplex patula in Flora of North America
  6. ^ "USDA PLANTS Profile". Archived from the original on 2013-05-11. Retrieved 2008-05-20.
  7. ^ Sherrod BL, 2001. Geological Society of America Bulletin 113, 1299-1311.
  8. ^ Milker Y, et al., 2016. Quaternary Science Reviews 142, 143-163.
  9. ^ Mabey, Richard (2012). Food for Free. London: Collins. p. 104. ISBN 978-000-743847-1.