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Plant Profile: Mountain Spinach (Atriplex hortensis)

Also known as orache, this annual is a member of the amaranth family, Amaranthaceae, that also includes beets, quinoa, and lamb’s quarters. It is native to Asia and Euroe and widely naturalized in Canada, the US, Australia, and New Zealand where it is found in disturbed areas, sea beaches and salt marshes. Plants grow 2-6′ tall and have erect branching stems and tall terminal racemes of small deep red or green flowers that resemble those of dock. The oblong to triangluar leaves are up to 6″ long, green or red, and edible. They are eaten as a warm weather alternative to spinach. White leaved varieties are said to have the most tender and sweetest taste. The genus name, Atriplex, is the Greek word for orach, a spinach like plant. The specific epithet, hortensis, is the Latin word meaning grown in a garden and refers to the fact the plant is cultivated.

Type:Annual

Bloom: Terminal racemes of small red or green flowers in summer

Size:2-6′ H x 1-2′ W

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Soil:Average, moderately moist, well-drain.ed

Hardiness: Not applicable

Care:Low maintenance; pick leaves for eating when young

Pests and Diseases: Not hardy

Propagation:Seed

Companion Plants: Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’, Salvia splendens ‘Laser Purple’, Lysimachia punctata ‘Walgoldalex’ [Golden Alexander], chard ‘Bright Lights’, and Atriplex hortensis var. rubra and ‘Magenta Magic’

Outstanding Selections:
var. Rubra’
‘Magenta Magic’

Photo Credit: Wikipedia