Herbs & Plants

Atriplex confertifolia

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Botanical Name : Atriplex confertifolia
Family: Chenopodiaceae
Genus: Atriplex
Species:A. confertifolia
Order: Caryophyllales

*Atriplex collina Wooton & Standl.
*Atriplex jonesii Standl.
*Atriplex sabulosa M.E.Jones 1903 not Rouy 1890
*Atriplex subconferta Rydb.
*Obione confertifolia Torr. & Frém.
*Obione rigida Torr. & Frém.

Common Names: Shadscale, Shadscale saltbush, Spiny saltbush, Sheep-fat

Habitat : Atriplex confertifolia is native to the western United States and northern Mexico. It grows on gravelly to fine-textured soils in greasewood, mat-atriplex, other salt desert shrub, sagebrush, pinyon-juniper, and ponderosa pine communities, 600 – 2200 metres.

Atriplex confertifolia is an evergreen Shrub growing to 1.8 m (6ft). It is in leaf 12-Jan and is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen in August. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Wind.The plant is not self-fertile.


Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Requires a light or medium well-drained but not too fertile soil in a sunny position. Tolerates saline and very alkaline soils[200]. Succeeds in a hot dry position. Plants resent root disturbance when they are large. Plants are apt to succumb to winter wet when grown on heavy or rich soils. Shadscale forms hybrids with Atriplex canescens, A. garrettii, A. corrugata, and A. gardneri varieties. It is, however, closely allied to A. parryi and A. spinifera. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
Seed – sow April/May in a cold frame in a compost of peat and sand. Germinates in 1 – 3 weeks at 13°c. Pot up the seedlings when still small into individual pots, grow on in a greenhouse for the first winter and plant out in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Very easy. Pot up as soon as they start to root (about 3 weeks) and plant out in their permanent positions late in the following spring. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, November/December in a frame. Very easy. Pot up in early spring and plant out in their permanent position in early summer
Edible Uses:
Leaves – cooked and used as greens. The water in which the leaves is cooked is used in making corn pudding. Seed – used in piñole or ground into a meal and used as a thickener in making bread or mixed with flour in making bread.
Medicinal Uses:

Antispasmodic; Poultice.

The plant has been burnt and the smoke inhaled as a treatment for epilepsy. The boiled leaves have been used as a liniment for sore muscles and aches. A poultice of the mashed leaves have been applied to the chest and a decoction of the leaves drunk to treat colds.

Other Uses: Shadscale fruits and leaves provide important winter browse for domestic livestock and native herbivores. Compared to fourwing saltbush (Atriplex canescens), shadscale has shorter and wider leaves and the fruit does not have four wings (although it may have two wings in a “V” shape).

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.

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