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Atriplex halimus - L.

Common Name Sea Orach, Saltbush
Family Chenopodiaceae
USDA hardiness 7-10
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.
Habitats Coastal sands by the sea[1, 100]. Saltmarshes[200].
Range S. Europe. Occasionally naturalized in Britain[200].
Edibility Rating    (5 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care
Frost Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Atriplex halimus Sea Orach, Saltbush


(c) 2010 Ken Fern & Plants For A Future
Atriplex halimus Sea Orach, Saltbush
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brote_de_atriplex_halimus.jpg

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Atriplex halimus is an evergreen Shrub growing to 2 m (6ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 8 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower in July. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and is pollinated by Wind.
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. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Hedge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Manna  Seed
Edible Uses:

Leaves - raw or cooked[2, 46, 61, 177]. Some forms are eaten raw[177]. A famine food according to one report[177], but in our opinion it is far from being a famine food, in fact this is one of the more popular crops being grown at 'The Field' at present (1993)[K]. The leaves have a very nice rather salty flavour, they go well in salads or can be cooked like spinach[K]. When lightly steamed, the leaves retain their crispness and are a delicious spinach substitute[K]. The leaves retain their salty flavour even when grow inland in non-salty soils[K]. The leaves can be used at any time of the year though winter harvesting must be light because the plant is not growing much at this time[K]. Seed - cooked[85]. It can be ground into a meal and used as a thickener in soups, or mixed with cereals in making bread. The seed is small and fiddly. The plant is said to yield an edible manna[183].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Carminative

The shoots are burnt to produce an antacid powder[238].

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Other Uses

Hedge  Hedge  Soap making  Soil reclamation

The ash from the burnt plant is used as the alkali in making soap[46, 61]. The plant makes a superb wind-resistant low-growing hedge that can be allowed to grow untrimmed or can be trimmed[K]. It is especially valuable in maritime areas, succeeding right on the coast, though can also be used inland[75, 182, K]. The plant is extremely tolerant of pruning and can regrow even when cut back into old wood[K]. The plant draws salt out of the soil and so has been used in soil-reclamation projects to de-salinate the soil[K].

Cultivation details

An easily grown plant, it succeeds in full sun in any well-drained but not too fertile soil[182, 200]. Tolerates saline and very alkaline soils[200]. Succeeds in dry soils including pure sands[49, 75]. Plants will grow in semi-shade, though they will soon become leggy in such a position, they are really best in full sun[K]. A very wind hardy plant, it is resistant to salt-laden gales[75], and can be used as a hedge in maritime areas[182]. Plants dislike very wet climates[K]. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c[200]. This plant is hardier than the foregoing report suggests, it grows well at Hilliers Arboretum in Hampshire where temperatures can fall somewhat lower than -10°c[K]. Plants can be damaged by severe frosts but they soon recover[11]. Resents root disturbance when large[134]. Plants are apt to succumb to winter wet when grown on heavy or rich soils[182]. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 9 through 7. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is multistemmed with multiple stems from the crown [1-2].

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Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

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Propagation

Seed - sow April/May in a cold frame in a compost of peat and sand. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 weeks at 13°c[134]. 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. The seed is seldom formed[200]. 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[K]. 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[K].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Gataf, Guettaf, Hamth, Kataf, Legtaf, Sea Orach, Sea purslane, Seabeach sandwort, Shrubby orache, Tree purslane,

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Algeria, Angola, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Central Africa, Cyprus, East Africa, Egypt, Europe, France, Greece, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mediterranean, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, North Africa, Pakistan, Palestine, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Siberia, Sinai, South Africa, Southern Africa, Spain, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, USA, West Africa,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Atriplex argenteaSilvery Orach, Silverscale saltbush, Stalked saltbush22
Atriplex argentea expansaSilverscale Saltbush20
Atriplex californicaCalifornia Orach, California saltbush30
Atriplex canescensGrey Sage Brush, Fourwing saltbush41
Atriplex carnosaThickleaf Orach20
Atriplex confertifoliaShadscale, Shadscale saltbush41
Atriplex coronataCrownscale20
Atriplex dimorphostegia 20
Atriplex elegansWheelscale Saltbush20
Atriplex glabriusculaScotland orache, Maritime saltbush, Frankton's saltbush, Northeastern saltbush20
Atriplex gmeliniiGmelin's saltbush20
Atriplex hastataHastate Orach30
Atriplex hortensisOrach, Garden orache42
Atriplex lapathifolia 30
Atriplex lentiformisQuail Bush, Big saltbush, Quailbush,31
Atriplex maximowiczianaMaximowicz's saltbush20
Atriplex mucronata 20
Atriplex nummulariaGiant Saltbush, Bluegreen saltbush30
Atriplex nuttalliiNuttall's Saltbush40
Atriplex patulaSpreading Orach, Spear saltbush31
Atriplex powelliiPowell's Saltweed20
Atriplex saccariaSack Saltbush20
Atriplex semibaccataAustralian Saltbush. Australian saltbush, Creeping saltbush20
Atriplex serenanaBractscale, Davidson's bractscale20
Atriplex subcordata 20
Atriplex tataricaTatarian orache20
Atriplex truncataWedgescale Saltbush20

 

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Expert comment

Author

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Botanical References

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Readers comment

meron   Thu Aug 10 2006

i planted atriplex halimus to know the its resistance to salinity in the green house but it didn't grow in the saline soil. what do u think the reason could be

Madeleine Fletcher   Sat Sep 12 2009

I would like to try out this plant in my edible garden in Maryland, US. Does anyone know a source or can send me a few cuttings, preferably rooted? I will pay for it. Thank you! Madeleine

   Jun 18 2012 12:00AM

Many atriplex varieties, including a. nummularia and a. halimus have significant oxalate content that makes them toxic if eaten raw and in quantity. Cooking in water removes most of this, but when grazed by animals, as it is in some dry areas, the risk of harm is considerable. The statement you've posted for both varieties, that "No member of this genus contains any toxins" is not quite accurate. This study is typical of many looking at saltbush as forage: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4004041

   Sep 20 2017 12:00AM

It survived protected in USDA 6, Romania (Ploiesti).

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