Page author: David Giblin
Atriplex canescens
fourwing saltbush, hoary saltbush, shadscale, wingscale

Distribution: Occurring east of the Cascades crest in Washington; Washington south to California, east to the Great Plains.

Habitat: Saline areas in the prairies.

Flowers: June-August

Origin: Native

Conservation Status: Review Group 1 in Washington (WANHP)


Dioecious, rounded, freely branched shrub 4-20 dm. tall, the branches stout, terete, at first whitish-scurfy, the outer layer later peeling off.


Leaves numerous, alternate, from elliptic to linear, sessile, 2-5 cm. long and 2-8 mm. wide, entire, grayish-scurfy.


Staminate flowers tawny, glomerate in numerous spikes that form large, leafy panicles, the perianth cleft to the base into 5 scurfy segments; pistillate flowers few to many in open to congested, leafy to naked spikes and panicles; each flower subtended by 2 bracts, which are completely fused, enclosing the fruit, and enlarging to 5-15 mm.


Utricle enclosed by the fused bracts, which have 4 wings lengthwise, the wings broader and longer than the body of the bract, sharply toothed and strongly net-veined.

Accepted Name:
Atriplex canescens (Pursh) Nutt.
Publication: Gen. N. Amer. Pl. 1: 197. 1818.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Atriplex nuttallii S. Watson [HC]
Atriplex nuttallii Wats. var. nuttallii [HC]
var. canescens – hoary saltbush
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Atriplex canescens in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Atriplex canescens checklist entry.

E-Flora BC: Atriplex canescens atlas page.

CalPhotos: Atriplex canescens photos.

USDA Plants: Atriplex canescens information.

9 photographs:
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