Atriplex Diana Bizecki Robson Key - Sask

This key was created by Diana Bizecki Robson (Robson, D.B. 2008, 'The Saltbushes (Atriplex) of the Prairie Provinces', Blue Jay, vol. 66, no.4, pp. 211-225).  I have added:


links to the species descriptions in Flora of North America


common names


rarity/abundance information, taken from Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Saskatchewan by Vernon L. Harms. N - native, CC - very common, C - common, FC - fairly common, UC - uncommon, VUL - vulnerable, THR - threatened, END  - endangered, EXT - possibly extirpated, ABS - absent, VER? - verification uncertain,  IN - introduced, ADV? - possibly adventive, R - rare (applies to introduced species only).

1a. Perennial shrub or subshrub; leaves linear to oblong, not lobed  (2)
1b. Annual herbs; leaves typically broader, often hastate and lobed (3)

2a. Shrubs to 60 cm tall; bracteoles with four prominent wings, rare  A. canescens (Four-Wing Saltbush)  ABS
2b. Subshrubs to 40 cm tall; bracteoles with tubercles or short wings; common  A. gardneri (Gardner's Saltbush, Nuttall's Saltbush) CC

3a. Leaves usually green on both surfaces, glabrous or sparingly powdery or finely scurfy at maturity  (4)
3b. Leaves white to grey, densely and finely scurfy at maturity, especially on the underside  (10)

4a. Bracteoles herbaceous or membranous with no spongy inner tissue  (5)
4b. Bracteoles thickened, especially at the base, with spongy inner tissue  (8) 

5a. Bracteoles orbicular, always entire  (6)
5b. Bracteoles ovate, triangular or rhombic, may be toothed (7) 

6a. Bracteoles large (to 15 mm long), subcordate or broadly rounded at base, veins merging above the base  A. hortensis (Garden Atriplex, Garden Orache) IN C
6b. Bracteoles small (to 6 mm long), slightly pointed at the base, veins merging only at the base  A. heterosperma (Two-Scale Saltbush) IN R, but common in Regina at least

7a. Bracteoles rhombic; terminal inflorescence of densely spaced glomerules; upper leaves green  A. patula (Spear Saltbush, Spreading Orache) IN FC
7b. Bracteoles ovate or triangular-ovate; terminal inflorescence of loosely spaced glomerules; upper leaves whitish below  A. oblongifolia (Oblong-Leaf Orache) IN VER?

8a. Lower leaves linear or ovate-lanceolate  A. dioica (Thickleaf Orache, Saline Saltbush) C
8b. Lower leaves triangular  (9) 

9a. Inflorescence with leafy bracts to the tip; bracteoles thick and spongy; seeds mostly more than 2.5 mm, only slightly dimorphic (of two kinds)  A. glabriuscula (Glabrous Orache) ABS
9b. Inflorescence with leafy bracts only at base; bracteoles thin to slightly spongy; seeds mostly less than 2.5 mm, distinctly dimorphic  A. prostrata (Hastate Saltbush) IN C

10a. Lower leaves sinuate-dentate, to about 3 cm long  A. rosea (Red Orache) IN UC
10b. Lower leaves entire  (11) 

11a. Sepals of staminate flowers pink, fused into a cup-shape and fleshy=lobed on back; pistillate bracteole ovate, entire  A. suckleyi
11b. Sepals of staminate flowers green, not cup-shaped, lobes ovate, rounded on back; pistillate bracteole lanceolate, lobed, wavy or toothed  (12) 

12a. Pistillate bracteoles obovate, 4-8 mm long  A. argentea (Silvery Atriplex) C
12b. Pistillate bracteoles cuneate, spatulate or oblong, less than 4 mm long  (13) 

13a. Pistillate bracteoles 2-3 mm long, cuneate and with three teeth at summit, smooth or with 1 or 2 small tubercles; leaves sessile or subsessile, not conspicuously nerved  A. truncata (Wedge-Leaved Saltbush) END
13b. Pistillate bracteoles 3-4 mm long, spatulate to oblong, with short tubercles, lower leaves stalked, conspicuously 3-nerved  A. powellii (Powell's Saltbush) END