Atriplex canescens (Fourwing saltbush)

Greatly branched evergreen to deciduous shrub from 2-10 ft. tall with red to yellowish-brown or nondescript flowers, blooming April to October. Adapted to all soil textures, including clays but most common on well-drained, coarse soils and is saline and alkaline tolerant; up to 9,000 ft. elevation. Intolerant of high water tables and inundation. Important and often dominant in numerous types of desert shrub communities within the Great Basin, Great Plains, Mojave, Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts. Some populations are rhizomatous and may sprout after low-severity fire. Excellent palatability to browsing livestock and wildlife with protein, fat and carbohydrate content similar to Alfalfa (Medicago sativa). Especially valuable forage during fall, winter and drought. Excellent cover and seeds for birds and small mammals, providing water for black-tailed jackrabbits, which are a major food source of golden eagles. Foliage fed on by numerous insects and is a caterpillar host of the MacNeill’s saltbush sootywing, Saltbush sootywing and San emigdio blue butterflies. Varieties listed below.


Atriplex canescens (Fourwing saltbush) map.png


Family: Chenopodiaceae

Duration: Perennial

Growth Habit: Shrub

Native Status: Native

Growth Form: Multiple Stem

Mature Height: 4 ft.

Bloom Color: Yellow

Fruit/Seed Color: Green

Bloom Period: Late Spring

Annual Precipitation: 5-18 in.

Drought Tolerance: High

Shade Tolerance: Intolerant

Elevation: Up to 8,500 ft.

Wetland Indicator Status:

Fire Resistance: No

Fire Tolerance: Low

Nitrogen fixation: None


Coarse Texture: Yes

Medium Texture: Yes

Fine Texture: Yes

Salinity Tolerance: High

CaCO3 Tolerance: High

pH Range: 6.5-9.5


Seeds per Pound: 44,200

Seeding Rate:  PLS lbs/acre

Season: Fall/Winter

Days to Germination:


Wytana - Naturally occurring hybrid cross with Gardner’s saltbush (A. gardneri) that grows up to 4 ft. tall. Less spiny than other saltbushes. Adapted to salty sites in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Developed for mine reclamation and range revegetation in arid and semi-arid northern latitudes. (Released 1976)