- Family: Amaranth family – Amaranthaceae (formerly Goosefoot Family – Chenopodiaceae)
- Growing form: Annual, unisexual herb with single capsule.
- Height: 30–90 cm (12–36 in.). Stem erect, bristly, branching – plant may be wider than it is high.
- Flower: Flowers modest, unisexual. Staminate flowers with 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, many-veined, toothed or glossy from edge and back. Styles 2. Inflorescence a dense raceme.
- Leaves: Opposite, fleshy. Blade triangular, with cordate or flat base, margin with large and small teeth or deeply lobed.
- Fruit: Achene enclosed by fruit calyx. Fruit calyx (bracteole) with 2 fused, 6–15 mm (0.24– 0.6 in.) long, triangular, sepals with lobed margins. Back of calyx also with lobes (glands). Seed black.
- Habitat: Sandy sea shores and seaweed piles.
- Flowering time: (July–)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 (Chenopodium specias are bisexual) and the former’s fruit typically have 2 partly joined bracteoles (Chenopodium species do not). The characteristics of these bracteoles are important for identifying the species within genus Atriplex.
Hastate orache is lobed, and this characteristic applies not only to the proper leaves but also to the fruit calyx mentioned above. If there is a need to differentiate between different species of genus Atriplex and genus Chenopodium within their own respective genera, a loupe is absolutely necessary. Hastate orache belongs to the group of genus Atriplex plants that are used in the kitchen – the leaves are used like spinach and the seeds like quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa).