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Glabrous Orache

Atriplex glabriuscula

  • Name also: Scotland Orache, Babington’s Orache, Northeastern Saltbush
  • Family: Amaranth family – Amaranthaceae
    (formerly Goosefoot Family – Chenopodiaceae)
  • Growing form: Annual herb.
  • Height: 10–50 cm (4–20 in.). Stem ascending, abundantly branching, striped, bristly, often completely reddish.
  • Flower: Flowers modest, unisexual. Staminate flowers 5-lobed perianth. Stamens 5. Pistillate flowers lacking perianth, enclosed by 2 erect, mealy bracts, stalkless in the clustered flowers, stalked in singly borne flowers. Bracts almost stalkless, 2–7 mm (0.08– 0.28 in.) long, 1-veined, with entire margins or small-toothed. Styles 2. Inflorescence axillary, intermittently spike-like, leafy.
  • Leaves: Opposite, fleshy, mealy (with glandular hairs) when young. Blade triangular, usually with entire but occasionally toothed margin, basal lobes obliquely forward-pointing. Upper leaves narrower than lower leaves.
  • Fruit: Thick and hard achene enclosed by fruit calyx. Fruit calyx with 2 fused, 3–10 mm long sepals (bracteoles). Sepals stalkless, ovate (diamond-shaped), 1-veined, usually with toothed margins and glands on surface. Seed brown–black.
  • Habitat: Stony and sandy sea shores, especially seaweed piles.
  • Flowering time: August–September.

Genus Atriplex is a difficult group from the point of view of identifying the species. The genus is easily confused with genus Chenopodium, but they can be told apart by the fact that Atriplex species are unisexual (monoecious or sometimes dioecious) but Chenopodium species are bisexual and the former’s fruits typically have 2 partly joined bracteoles (Chenopodium species do not). The characteristics of these bracteoles are important for identifying the species within genus Atriplex.

Glabrous orache resembles in many ways more common spear-leaved orache (A. prostrata). Glabrous orache can be found in Finland quite rarely only in the south of the country in coastal areas, as is generally typical of the genus Atriplex. In Sweden oraches are called ‘strandmållor’ meaning coastal oraches.

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

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