Flowering Season: May to September in Australian; fruits on one plant may be green, yellow, bluish and showy red at maturity, fruitsglobose or globular and succulent; plant fruit in the fall in central Arizona.
Elevation: 1,000 to 2,000 feet (330 to 660 m).
Habitat Preferences: Sandy, riparian or semi-wet areas in AZ; In Australia it has a wide climatic, soil and topographic tolerance and is found from coastal areas, sand dunes, clay and saline depressions among other habitat types.
Recorded Range: Ruby-Saltbush is an exotic Amaranth found first in California and now in Arizona.
U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: In North America Enchylaena tomentosa has the following wetland designations: Arid West, UPL, Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast UPL.
UPL = Obligate Upland, almost never occur in wetlands
Genus Information: In North America there is 1 species and 1 accepted taxa overall for Enchylaena. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 2 accepted species names and a further 3 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus. Enchylaena tomentosa was first published by Robert Brown in 1810 as a monotypic genus.
There are 2 varieties in Enchylaena tomentosa;
Enchylaena tomentosa var. tomentosa, (whitish hairs);
Enchylaena tomentosa var. glabra (less woolly);
Comments: The plant in the photographs above was taken in September through December at the Tempe Riparian Area, along the Salt River in north Tempe.
According to the literature the mature fruits of Enchylaena tomentosa are eaten raw and described as crisp, salty-sweet andsucculent. However, it should be noted that the leaves contain oxalates and they should not be eaten in large quantity.
Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
No information for North America. In Australia Enchylaena tomentosa is listed as a "maintenance feed" because not enough of the plants exist as a sole foraging food. It is drought tolerant and is available in drying conditions when other forage is not available. In Victoria, Australia it is eaten by sheep.
Special Value to Native Bees, Butterflies and Insects
No information available.
The genus Enchylaena from the Greek word "enchylos" fleshy or succulent and laina, a cloak, referencing the perianth becoming fleasy when ripe.
The species epithet "tomentosa" is a reference to the tomentose hairs on its foliage.
Enchylaena tomentosa has historically been sought after by Indigenous Australians as a snack food and is still collected today. Indigenous central Australian groups apparently soak the fruits in water and make a sweetened tea. Early settlers were observed harvesting the leaves and eaten as a vegetable after boiling. Major Thomas Mitchell observed children harvested the fruit to make pink decorations.