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Unusually tolerant of direct seashore conditions and highly alkaline desert soils, saltbushes are grown for their gray or silvery foliage. Flowers and seeds attract birds. Need good drainage. Often become straggly with age; to keep them compact, cut back previous year’s growth by one-third each year before the first flush of spring growth. Plants are fire resistant.

Atriplex confertifolia, photo courtesy of Mark Turner
Atriplex confertifolia, photo courtesy of Mark Turner

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Atriplex confertifolia

Native to high plains and mesas from eastern Oregon and California to North Dakota, and south to northern Arizona,western Texas, and Mexico. A mounded, woody, spiny subshrub,1–3 ft. tall and wide,with rounded, whitish leaves and pinkish or yellowish flower spikes in early summer.

Atriplex lentiformis

Native to alkaliwastes in California valleys anddeserts and east to Nevada,Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. Densely branched, sometimesspiny shrub, to 3–10 ft. highand 6–12 ft. wide. Oval, bluishgray leaves 1/2–2 in. long. Useful as salt-tolerant informal hedge or windbreak.

Atriplex lentiformis breweri

Native to California coastsouth of San Francisco bayand to Channel Islands. Resembles A. lentiformis but is notspiny. Grows 5–7 ft. high and6–8 ft. wide. Useful gray planton ocean front; will grow inreclaimed marine soil. Sometimes sheared into a hedge.

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