This annual shrub is a member of the Amaranthaceae family that also includes spinach, beet, and celosia.  It is native to western Asia from Arabia to Afghanistan and Tibet where it grows in deserts, dunes, sandy places, and alluvial fans. The decumbent or spreading plants grow 5-16″ tall and are many branched.  The gray-green succulent leaves are .4-1″ long, subsessile, and ovate, deltoid, or cordate.  Inconspicuous male and female  flowers appear in the leaf axils on the same plant in summer. The leaves and seeds of the plant are edible; the leaves are eaten as emergency food and the seeds used as a thickener or in bread.  The genus name, Atriplex, is the Greek name for orach, a related plant that can be used as spinach. The specific epithet, dimorphostegia, comes from the Greek words dis meaning twice, morphe meaning shape, and stegon, meaning cover.

Type: Annual herb

Outstanding Feature: Tolerance to drought  and lean, saline, and alkali soil

Form: Decumbent, spreading

Growth Rate: Rapid

Bloom: Inconspicuous male and female flowers on the same plant in summer

Size: 5-16″ H

Light: Full sun; not shade tolerant

Soil: Average, medium moist to dry, well-drained, neutral, acid, or alkaline but tolerates lean, and very alkaline and saline soils

Hardiness: Not relvant

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Sow seed in mid to late spring.

Outstanding Selections: None


By Karen