Images: ©Jouko Lehmuskallio

Long-stalked Orache

Atriplex longipes

  • Family: Amaranth Family – Amaranthaceae
    (formerly Goosefoot Family – Chenopodiaceae)
  • Growing form: Annual herb.
  • Height: 5–50 cm (2–20 in.).
  • Flower: Male flower: perianth yellowish, regular, ca 1 mm (0.04 in.) across, perianth-segments 5. Stamens 5. Female flower: lacks perianth, enclosed by 2 erect, mealy bracts, stalkless in the clustered flowers, stalked in singly borne flowers. Bracts 2–15 mm (0.08–0.6 in.) long, triangular, with entire margins and smooth dorsal surface. Carpels fused, gynoecium 2-styled.
  • Leaves: Usually alternate, stalk shorter than blade. Blade with glandular hairs and entire, or rarely toothed, margins. Base wedge-shaped, with usu. 2 basal lobes obliquely forward-pointing.
  • Fruit: Achene enclosed by and united with 2 erect bracteoles.
  • Habitat: Seashore meadows and gravels, bare ground near waterline.
  • Flowering time: May–July.

Different oraches (Atriplex spp.) are difficult to distinguish between. Oraches are very similar to species of genus Chenopodium from which they can, however, be separated by that they have unisexual flowers (they are monoecious or rarely dioecious) and characteristic fruit-enclosing bracts. The appearance of these bracts is also among the best distinguishing characters within genus Atriplex.

Long-stalked orache is an annual species of saline habitats, especially seashores. It often grows where the salt spray reaches it, and is often submerged during high water. It can be distinguished from other Finnish Atriplex species by not only the preferred habitat but also the early flowering time. The fruits and the fruit-enclosing bracteoles are often membranous and stalked. Due to the latter characteristic the species has been named longipes meaning long-stalked. Long-stalked orache is usually much-branched, and the branches are often as long as the stem.

Two different subspecies occur on the coasts of Finland, ssp. longipes and ssp. praecox. The leaves of the former usually have toothed margins and its flowers are often borne singly in the leaf-axils, whereas the leaf margins of the latter are entire (apart from the two basal teeth) and most of its flowers are borne in dense clusters.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family
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