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Atriplex canescens

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About Shadscale (Atriplex canescens) Atriplex canescens (Chamiso, Chamiza, Four wing saltbush, Four-wing saltbush, Fourwing saltbush) is a species of evergreen shrub in the Amaranthaceae family, which is native to the western United States. Fourwing saltbush has a highly variable form, and readily hybridizes with several other species in the Atriplex genus. The degree of polyploidy also results in variations in form. Its height can vary from 1 foot to 10 feet, but 2 to 4 feet is most common. The leaves are thin and 0.5 to 2 inches long. It is most readily identified by its fruits, which have four wings at roughly 90 degree angles and are densely packed on long stems. The fruit stem resembles a mass of corn flakes.

Atriplex canscens is a great bird plant. Best to plant in dry salty soils. Susceptible to root rot unless drought or salt stressed.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
1 - 10 ft (0.3 - 3 m)

Max. Width
3 - 7 ft (0.9 - 2.1 m)

Upright, Mounding

Growth Rate
Fast, Slow

Summer Semi-Deciduous, Evergreen

Flower Color
Yellow, Green

Flowering Season
Spring, Summer

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Areas with poor soils, often salty, alkaline or clay slopes, stabilized sand dunes, gravelly washes.


Elevation ?
-234' - 7983'

Annual Precip. ?
1.9" - 35.5"

Summer Precip. ?
0.17" - 3.32"

Coldest Month ?
25.6° F - 63.3° F

Hottest Month ?
55.7° F - 89.6° F

Humidity ?
0.74 vpd - 47.01 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates a wide variety of soil types, including salt, sand and clay and very alkaline soils.

Soil Texture
Sand, Sandy Clay, Sandy Clay Loam, Sandy Loam

Soil PH
7 - 8

Soil Toxicity Tolerance
Tolerates Saline Soil

Fast, Medium, Slow

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 0 - 10° F

Wildlife Attracted
Very important bird plant in its natural range. Also attracts native bees and many butterfly species.

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Seldom Used

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water, 1x/month
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Pest Control
Subject to root rot unless drought stressed. Rabbit and deer often eat younger plants.

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: Fresh seeds need dry storage for about 10 mos.; stored seeds, no treatment. (USDA Forest Service 1974; or 2.5 mos. stratification (Stidham et al. 1980).

Common uses
Hedges, Butterfly Gardens, Bird Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Fourwing Saltbush

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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