SEARCH AND WILDFLOWER HOME PAGE     YELLOW FLOWERS     CONTACT US



   In the high desert of the Four Corners area, there are a number of heat and salt tolerant Amaranths of the Atriplex and Chenopodium genera.

    The two Atriplex shown on this page are low growing, symmetrical shrubs with many elongated flower stems of numerous minute 1 millimeter flowers. The shape of the seed pods is often crucial in distinguishing between species. A number of the species hybridize.

    As the photograph immediately below shows, where you find this species it will almost always occur with many others of its kind nearby and even stretching into the distance. It will often be the dominant species of the area.

    Be sure also to see the even more common Amaranths, Atriplex canescens and Atriplex confertifolia.

    Atriplex is an ancient Latin name for a now unknown plant; the name was applied to this genus in modern times by Linnaeus in 1753.

Atriplex corrugata
Atriplex corrugata

Atriplex corrugata (Matted Saltbush)
Amaranthaceae (Amaranth Family)
(formerly Chenopodiaceae, Goosefoot Family)

Semi-desert. Shrublands, openings. Spring.
Above and left: Southeast of Aneth, Utah, March 24, 2017.

Leaves of Atriplex corrugata are 2-6 millimeters wide and 3-18 millimeters long whereas the leaves of A. gardneri (shown below) are 5-25 mm wide  and 10-50 mm long (1.5-4.5 times longer than wide).

Flowering stems of both A. corrugata and A. gardneri stand above the mass of leaves, although A. gardneri tend to be slightly longer and are quite conspicuous even in the winter.

A. corrugata typically grows no taller than 15 cm and may be 10 times as wide. A. gardneri is often three times as tall and up to meters wide.

Alice Eastwood was the first to collect this species for science. She found it in the Grand Junction area in May of 1891. In the same year Sereno Watson described and named the plant.

"Corrugata" is Latin for "with folds or wrinkles".

Atriplex corrugata  Atriplex corrugata

Atriplex corrugata (Matted Saltbush)
Amaranthaceae (Amaranth Family)
(formerly Chenopodiaceae, Goosefoot Family)

Semi-desert. Shrublands, openings. Spring.
Southeast of Aneth, Utah, March 24, 2017.

At the top of the inflorescence in the left photograph you can see the tight massed ball of newly growing flowers. Lower on the flowering stem in that photograph you can see the yellow of the flowers gradually opening and in the right photograph at the arrows you can see the fully opened female flowers.

Both species shown on this page are dioecious and it is difficult, especially at the early stages of flowering such as are shown on this page, to tell if the flower is male or female. Once seeds begin to develop it is, of course, obvious which are female and which are male flowers.

 

Atriplex gardneri var. cuneata

Atriplex gardneri var. cuneata

Atriplex gardneri var. cuneata. Synonym: Atriplex cuneata. (Gardner's Saltbush)
Amaranthaceae (Amaranth Family)
(formerly Chenopodiaceae, Goosefoot Family)

Semi-desert. Shrublands, openings. Spring.
Above and left: McElmo Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, March 22, 2017.

Both this species and A. corrugata (shown above) like the hot, barren-appearing soils of Mancos Shale and the soils washed out of the Morrison Formation. Both species can hide from you until you finally get them in your mind's eye and then you commonly find them in the vicinity of the Four Corners. See A. corrugata for details about A. gardneri.

This species was first collected by Marcus Jones in 1894 and was named Atriplex cuneata by Aven Nelson in 1902. Stanley Welsh renamed the plant Atriplex gardneri var. cuneata in 1984.

Atriplex gardneri was first collected by Alexander Gordon along the Platte River in eastern Wyoming or western Nebraska in 1843, and it was named Obione gardneri by Moquin in 1849. Moquin misread Gordon's handwriting and honored Gordon with the name of "Gardneri"! According to botanical rules, the spelling of the name cannot be corrected. Dietrich renamed the species Atriplex gardneri in 1852.

The Flora of North America and other floras covering the Four Corners region now accept the name Atriplex gardneri var. cuneata. BONAP indicates that it is properly called Atriplex cuneata.

Atriplex gardneri var. cuneata (Gardner's Saltbush) 

Atriplex gardneri var. cuneata. Synonym: Atriplex cuneata. (Gardner's Saltbush)
Amaranthaceae (Amaranth Family)
(formerly Chenopodiaceae, Goosefoot Family)

Semi-desert. Shrublands, openings. Spring.
Cross Canyon, March 25, 2017.

Clusters of tiny flower buds are just beginning on this young plant.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Atriplex corrugata

Range map for Atriplex corrugata

Atriplex gardneri var. cuneata

Range map for Atriplex gardneri var. cuneata