Atriplex hortensis

Botanical Name :Atriplex hortensis
Family: Amaranthaceae
Subfamily: Chenopodioideae
Genus: Atriplex
Species: A. hortensis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Synonyms: Mountain Spinach. Garden Orache

Common Names: Garden Orache, Red Orach, Mountain Spinach, French Spinach, or simply “orache” or arrach

Habitat : Atriplex hortensis is native  to Europe. An occasional garden escape in Britain. It grows on arable land, waste and disturbed ground, shingle etc.

Description:
Atriplex hortensis is a hardy, annual plant, with an erect, branching stem, varying in height from two to six feet, according to the variety and soil. The leaves are variously shaped, but somewhat oblong, comparatively thin in texture, and slightly acidic to the taste. It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind. The flowers are small and obscure, greenish or reddish, corresponding in a degree with the color of the foliage of the plant; the seeds are small, black, and surrounded with a thin, pale-yellow membrane. They retain their vitality for three years…..CLICK & SEE THE  PICTURES
Cultivation:
Orach is a very easily grown plant, doing equally well in a wide variety of well-drained soils, though rich, moisture-retentive soils give the quick growth that is necessary for the production of tender leaves[33, 37, 200, 269]. Plants require a position in full sun and are tolerant of saline and very alkaline soils. They thrive in any temperate climate, and are drought resistant. Orach is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation of 30 to 140cm, an average annual temperature in the range of 6 to 24°C, and a pH of 5.0 to 8.2. Orach was formerly cultivated for its edible leaves, there are some named varieties. It can be grown as a warm weather substitute for spinach. Some forms of this species have bronze or deep red leaves and are occasionally grown as ornamental plants, their leaves taste the same as the green-leafed forms. Plants are fast-growing and usually self-sow quite freely if the surrounding soil is disturbed by hoeing etc. They tolerate hot weather well, but soon go to seed so successive sowings at 4 weekly intervals are required during the growing season if a continuous supply of leaves is required. Leaves can be harvested 40 – 60 days after sowing the seed. This species is a poor companion plant for potatoes, inhibiting their growth when growing close to them.
Propagation: 
Seed – sow March to August in situ, only just covering the seed. Germination is usually good and rapid.

Edible Uses:
Leaves – raw or cooked. Used like spinach, they have a bland flavour and are traditionally mixed with sorrel leaves in order to modify the acidity of the latter. Another report says that the flavour is stronger than spinach. Seed – cooked. It can be ground into a meal and used in soups etc or be mixed with flour when making bread. The seed is said to be a good source of vitamin A. The seed is also said to contain some saponins. See the notes above on toxicity. The seed is small and fiddly to harvest and us

Medicinal Uses:
Antirheumatic;  Diuretic;  EmeticPurgative.

The leaves are diuretic, emetic and purgative. They are also said to be a stimulant to the metabolism and an infusion is used as a spring tonic and a remedy for tiredness and nervous exhaustion. They have been suggested as a folk remedy for treating plethora and lung ailments. The leaves are said to be efficacious when used externally in the treatment of gout. The seeds, mixed with wine, are said to cure yellow jaundice. They also excite vomiting. The fruits are purgative and emetic. Liniments and emollients prepared from the whole plant, like the juice of the plant, are said to be folk remedies for indurations and tumours, especially of the throat. Heated with vinegar, honey and salt and applied, the Orache was considered efficacious to cure an attack of gout.

Considered diuretic, emetic, and emollient, orache has been suggested as a folk remedy for plethora and lung ailments. Seeds mixed with wine are said to cure yellow jaundice. They also excite vomiting. Heated with vinegar, honey and salt, orache is used for gout. Fruits are purgative and emetic. Liniments and emollients prepared from the whole plant, like the juice of the plant, are said to be folk remedies for indurations and tumors, especially of the throat. Used as a spring tonic and stimulant and in infusions to treat tiredness or exhaustion. A. patula’s seeds are gathered when just ripe and a pound (450 g) of them, bruised, is placed in three quarts (3.4 1) of moderate strength spirit. The whole is left to stand for six weeks, affording a light and not unpleasant tincture. A tablespoonful of the tincture, taken in a cup of water-gruel, has the same effect as a dose of Ipecacuanha, except that its operation is milder and it does not bind the bowels afterwards. After taking the dose, the patient should go to bed. A gentle sweat will follow, carrying off whatever offending matter the motions have dislodged, thus preventing long disease. As some stomachs are harder to move than others, a second tablespoonful may be taken if the first does not perform its office. Native Americans used poultices of the roots, stems and flowers for relieve of insect stings. Europeans used them to treat gout, jaundice and sore throats.

Other Uses:
Biomass;  Dye.

A blue dye is obtained from the seed. The plant is a potential source of biomass. Yields of 14 tonnes per hectare have been achieved in the vicinity of Landskrona and Lund, Sweden. Higher yields might be expected farther south. If the leaf-protein were extracted, this should leave more than 13 tonnes biomass as by-product, for potential conversion to liquid or gaseous fuels.

Known Hazards: No member of this genus contains any toxins, all have more or less edible leaves. However, if grown with artificial fertilizers, they may concentrate harmful amounts of nitrates in their leaves. The seed contains saponins. Although poisonous, saponins are poorly absorbed by the human body and so most pass through without harm. Saponins are quite bitter and can be found in many common foods such as some beans. They can be removed by carefully leaching the seed or flour in running water. Thorough cooking, and perhaps changing the cooking water once, will also normally remove most of them. However, it is not advisable to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/arrac060.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Atriplex+hortensis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atriplex_hortensis

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_OPQ.htm

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