An Illustrated Guide to ARIZONA WEEDS

The University of Arizona Press

WHEELSCALE SALTBUSH

Illustration

GOOSEFOOT FAMILY-Chenopodiaceae

WHEELSCALE SALTBUSH-Atriplex elegans (Moq.) D. Dietr.

DESCRIPTION-A bushy much branched annual, densely covered by small silverish mealy scales, and reproducing only by seeds. The erect stems, branching from the base, are 1 to 2 (or 3) feet high, and slightly woody at the base. The thin narrow alternate leaves, 3/8 to 1 or 2 inches long, and 1/12 to 1/4 inch broad, often have several small teeth along the edge. Frequently the lower leaf surface is silvery, and the upper greenish.

The small inconspicuous flowers are abundant, and of 2 kinds: male and female. They occur together in small clusters at the base of the leaves, and also form very short spikes at the tip of each stem branch. The seed is permanently enclosed between 2 wheelshaped bracts. The grayish bracts are about 1/8 inch in diameter, with the greenish margin divided into 9 to 20 narrow distinct teeth. A form at Tucson also has a few warty projections on the faces of the bracts.

DISTRIBUTION-Wheelscale saltbush, a native, is abundant in hard-packed, heavy alkaline, dry caliche, or moist fertile soil in cultivated fields, citrus groves, roads, city streets, ditches, and waste places in southern Arizona; 100 to 3,500 feet elevation; flowering May to November, but mostly in late summer.

SALTON SALTBUSH-Atriplex fasciculata Wats.

DESCRIPTION-Closely resembles wheelscale saltbush, but the stems which are branched from the base are prostrate with the tips ascending, rather than erect. This gives the growing plant an entirely different appearance. The leaves are more spatulashaped, broad and rounded above, narrowed at the base, often 1/2 inch broad, with fewer or no teeth along the margins. The bracts enclosing the seed are also wheelshaped; the greenish margins are divided not into distinct countable teeth, but into minute teeth too short and indistinct to count even with the aid of a lens.

DISTRIBUTION-Salton saltbush grows in the same type of places, has the same distribution and flowering period as wheelscale saltbush, but isn't nearly as common.

Copyright (c) 1972 The Arizona Board of Regents



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