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