Electronic Flora of South Australia
Electronic Flora of South Australia
Census of SA Plants, Algae & Fungi
Identification tools

Electronic Flora of South Australia genus Fact Sheet

Family: Amaranthaceae

Citation: L., Sp. Pl. 1052 (1753).

Derivation: Latin atriplexum, an orache.

Synonymy: Not Applicable

Common name: Saltbushes.

Annual or perennial herbs or shrubs, monoecious or dioecious; indumentum of bladder-like hairs which may collapse to form a scurry or scaly covering; leaves mostly alternate, flat to semiterete, entire, dentate or lobed.

Flowers unisexual, small, clustered, the clusters axillary, spicate or paniculate; male flowers without bracts or bracteoles; perianth deeply 5-lobed; stamens 5, filaments linear; female flowers: perianth absent and replaced by a pair of bracteoles which enlarge and cover the fruit; bracteoles sessile or stipitate, free or fused, in fruit herbaceous or woody or spongy, sometimes with appendages which may exceed the bracteoles; stigmas 2, slender.

Pericarp membranous; seed erect, lenticular; testa crustaceous, coriaceous or membranous; embryo annular; perisperm central.

Distribution:  Cosmopolitan with over 250 species, often halophytic.

Biology: The term 'bracteoles' refers to the fruiting bracteoles.

Uses: Variants of the European species, A. hortensis L., are grown for food and as an ornamental.

Key to Species:
1. Annuals or short-lived perennials, monoecious; fruiting bracteoles almost totally united, spongy or (in 1 species) dorsiventrally flattened and with broad vertical wings; appendages (other than wings) absent
1. Annuals, perennials or shrubs; fruiting bracteoles free or united, not spongy though sometimes with spongy appendages; wings absent
2. Annuals with slender ribbed stems; leaves herbaceous, flat, venation open
2. Perennial herbs or shrubs; leaves with closed dark-green reticulate venation
3. Perennial herbs, monoecious; glomerules of male flowers axillary or spicate
3. Perennial herbs or shrubs, predominantly dioecious; glomerules of male flowers spicate or paniculate
1. Lower leaves lanceolate, entire to deeply serrate, if hastate then with forwardly directed basal lobes
A. australasica 4.
1. Lower leaves triangular or hastate with spreading or slightly backwardly directed basal lobes
A. prostrata 29.
1. Bracteoles globular, ellipsoid, or obovoid; wing-like appendages absent
2. Leaves sessile or shortly petiolate; bracteoles broadly ellipsoid to globular, 4-6 (rarely to 8) mm long
A. spongiosa 36.
2. Leaves conspicuously petiolate; bracteoles globular to obovoid, 8-12 mm long
A. holocarpa 13.
1. Bracteoles variously shaped, bearing 1 or 2 horizontal to vertical wings (sometimes very narrow)
3. Tube small, obconical, 1-3 mm high, somewhat compressed
4. Valves fan-shaped, appressed; appendages inflated, attached to the apex of the tube on each side
A. kochiana 16.
4. Valves minute or triangular and 1-2 mm long; appendages wing-like, horizontal, somewhat undulate
5. Bracteoles scurfy-pubescent
A. obconica 26.
5. Bractcoles glabrous, glossy
A. macropterocarpa 21.
3. Tube prominent, 5-12 mm high, either compressed and bordered by decurrent wings or turbinate to globular without decurrent wings
A. lindleyi 19.
1. Bracteoles from half to nearly entirely united
2. Bracteoles cylindrical or with a cylindrical tube
3. Bracteoles 4-6-lobed at the apex; the lobes horn-like, fan-shaped, or reduced to small teeth
A. limbata 18.
3. Bracteoles acute to rounded or truncate
4. Bracteoles with free broadly fan-shaped to reniform valves, often with recurved lobes
A. angulata 3.
4. Bracteoles fused to the apex; distal portion flattened to cylindrical, oblong or narrow-cuneate
5. Bracteole apex flattened, rhomboid or cuneate, dentate, glossy when mature
A. intermedia 15.
5. Bracteole apex compressed or cylindrical, insignificant, scurfy
6. Bracteoles smooth, 3-5 mm long, the basal portion being the spongy straw-coloured pedicel (LE region)
A. sturtii 38.
6. Bracteoles smooth or tuberculate, 4-6 mm long including the slender or spongy pedicel (LE, NL, MU regions)
A. leptocarpa 17.
2. Bracteoles flattened to biconvex, without a cylindrical tube
7. Bracteoles without dorsal appendages
8. Bracteoles sessile (or appearing so)
9. Bracteoles more or less deltoid, prominently reticulate, often red and succulent when fresh; plant prostrate or decumbent
A. semibaccata 35.
9. Bracteoles variously shaped, not succulent
10. Erect divaricately branched plant with deeply concave clasping leaves (NU region)
A. cryptocarpa 8.
10. Prostrate to erect; leaves not clasping (widespread)
11. Plant prostrate; leaves 2-6 mm long; bracteoles 1-1.5 mm long
A. pumilio 31.
11. Plant decumbent to erect; leaves and bracteoles longer than above
12. Bracteoles oblong, with a somewhat swollen tube
A. acutibractea 1.
12. Bracteoles compressed and rhomboid to deltoid or swollen and rounded at the apex
13. Bracteoles swollen, rounded at the apex
A. muelleri 23.
13. Bracteoles compressed, rhomboid to deltoid
14. Leaves coarsely serrate, sparsely scurfy above and below; bracteoles scurfy-pubescent
A. suberecta 39.
14. Leaves sinuate-dentate to entire, scurfy below, glabrescent above
A. semibaccata 35.
8. Bracteoles pedicellate
15. Leaves sessile or subsessile, 5-20 (rarely to 30) mm long
16. Bracteoles deltoid to rhomboid, flattened, reticulate; leaves glabrescent above
A. semibaccata 35.
16. Bracteoles swollen at least in part
17. Bracteoles acute
A. acutibractea 1.
17. Bracteoles obtuse to truncate, entire or toothed
18. Bracteoles turbinate or narrow-turbinate, c. 5 mm long
A. turbinata 40.
18. Bracteoles rhomboid to deltoid or broad-deltoid
19. Bracteoles with a short thick pedicel and deltoid 3-toothed valves, in all 2-3 mm long
A. crassipes 7.
19. Bracteoles shortly and narrowly pedicellate, broad- rhomboid to broad-deltoid, 2-3 mm long, denticulate or entire
A. pseudocampanulata 30.
15. Leaves prominently petiolate, 20-40 mm long; bracteoles with fan-shaped or reniform valves
A. angulata 3.
7. Bracteoles with dorsal appendages
20. Bracteole appendages numerous, verrucose or papillose
21. Leaves thick, linear to narrow-oblong, acute
A. papillata 28.
21. Leaves thin, broad-obovate, sinuate-dentate, rounded
A. morrisii 22.
20. Bracteole appendages 1-4, or few and flattened or inflated
22. Appendages tuberculate, papillose, or slender
23. Bracteoles with a short thick pedicel; valves flattened, deltoid, c. 2 mm long
A. crassipes 7.
23. Bracteoles sessile, U-shaped, swollen, c. 1.5 mm long
A. elachophylla 11.
22. Appendages inflated, foliaceous, or spiny
24. Bracteoles with a swollen base and narrow beak-like valves; appendage inflated
A. nessorhina 24.
24. Bracteoles without a swollen base
25. Bracteoles equal; leaves with sinuate margins
A. pseudocampanulata 30.
25. Bracteoles unequal
26. Appendages leaf-like
A. eardleyae 9.
26. Appendages inflated, attached along each margin on one side of the tube
A. eichleri 10.
1. Fruiting bracteoles free to near the base
27. Bracteoles fan-shaped to reniform, unequal
A. eardleyae 9.
27. Bracteoles not as above
28. Bracteoles prominently lobed
29. Leaves congested, sessile, cordate
A. quadrivalvata 32.
29. Leaves not congested, petiolate or narrowed at the base
30. Bracteoles with flat or inflated acutely lobed appendages A. fissivalvis 12
30. Bracteoles without appendages
A. lobativalvis 20.
28. Bracteoles entire or the margin sinuate or toothed
31. Bracteole appendages inflated, entire, more or less equal in size to the bracteoles
A. kochiana 16.
31. Bracteole appendages small or absent
32. Leaves narrow-triangular, cordate at the base
A. cordifolia 6.
32. Leaves narrow-oblong to broad-obovate, narrowed at the base
33. Bracteoles with I or 2 tubercular appendages on each valve
A. semibaccata 35.
33. Bracteoles either without appendages or with inflated appendages
34. Bracteoles prominently dentate, scurfy-tomentose; appendages basal, small and inflated
A. acutiloba 2.
34. Bracteoles entire or with basal teeth, scurfy-tomentose to subglabrous; appendages basal or absent
A. velutinella 41.
1. Bracteoles slender-pedicellate, reniform or semicircular, entire
2. Bracteole appendages absent; leaves elliptic to broad-elliptic, 0.5-1 cm long, entire
A. stipitata 37.
2. Bracteole appendages reniform, inflated, about half the width of the valve; leaves oblanceolate, c. 2 cm long, distantly toothed
A. quinii 33.
1. Bracteoles with a thick pedicel or sessile to subsessile
3. Bracteoles with a bladder-like appendage
A. vesicaria 42.
3. Bracteoles without appendages, or with 2 slender antler-like appendages
4. Leaves entire
5. Leaves cordate to deltoid; bracteoles broad-rhomboid to orbicular, c. 3 mm wide, biconvex, hard with little or no papery margin (MU region)
A. rhagodioides 34.
5. Leaves elliptic (coastal)
6. Female flowers in terminal inflorescences; bracteoles cordate to deltoid, flat, without appendages
A. paludosa 27.
6. Female flowers axillary; bracteoles ovoid to rhomboid, swollen in the centre, smooth or with verrucose appendages
A. cinerea 5.
4. Leaves dentate or denticulate, deltoid to cordate, broad-elliptic or orbicular
7. Leaves rhomboid to orbicular, sinuate-dentate; bracteoles sessile, rhomboid to orbicular, papery all over or with a thickened base; valves appressed or reflexed, with entire or denticulate margins; shrub 1.5-3 m high, with ascending branches (inland)
A. nummularia 25.
7. Leaves cordate to deltoid, dentate; bracteoles sessile, thickened all over or only at the base; divaricately branched shrubs
8. Bracteoles suborbicular, 6-10 mm wide; valves papery, slightly recurved, dentate, thickened in the centre or towards the base (LE, GT)
A. incrassata 14.
8. Bracteoles broad-rhomboid to orbicular, c. 3 mm wide, biconvex, hard with little or no papery margin (MU region)
A. rhagodioides 34.

Author: Not yet available

Disclaimer Copyright Disclaimer Copyright Email Contact:
State Herbarium of South Australia
Government of South Australia Government of South Australia Government of South Australia Department for Environment and Water