Atriplex canescens, Four-wing Salt Bush
Scientific Name: Atriplex canescens
Common Name: Four-wing Salt Bush
Also Called: Cenzio, Chamiso, Fourwing Saltbush, Fourwing Faltbush, Wing-scale,
Family: Chenopodiaceae, Goosefoot Family (Atriplex canescens is now included as a sub-family (Chenopodioideae) in the Amaranthaceae by some botanists.
Synonyms: (Obione berlandieri, Obione canescens, Pterochiton occidentale)
Size: Up to 6 feet or more (7') and as wide or wider.
Growth Form: Shrub; erect; plants not thorny or otherwise armed.
Leaves: Green; silver-gray-green; covered with a silvery pubescence leaves are mostly persistent; alternate; mostly sessile; leaf shape variable, linear to oblanceolate, oblong or obovate particularly by variety; leaf margins entire.
Flower Color: Inconspicuous, tiny yellow or brown; male flowers in terminal panicles; female flowers in short terminal spikes; mostly dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants); fruits with 4 prominent papery wings.
Flowering Season: April to October; variable by variety.
Elevation: 100 to 6,500 feet; elevations variable by variety.
Habitat Preferences: Sandy, saline, non-saline soil, sand dunes; variable by variety.
Recorded Range: Four-wing Salt Bush is a common shrub west of the Mississippi River and extends to Alberta, Canada: AZ, CA, CO, ID, KS, MT, ND, NE, NM, NV, OK, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA, WY. It is also native to Baja California and northern and central Mexico.
North America & US County Distribution Map for Atriplex canescens.
U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: Atriplex canescens var. gigantea or Giant Four-wing Saltbush, is a rare variety of a common species. It is listed in the Center for Plant Conservation National Collection of Endangered Plants.
In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 26 species of Atriplex, California has 51 species, Nevada has 27 species, New Mexico has 21 species, Texas has 21 species, Utah has 35 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.
There are 6 varieties in Atriplex canescens:
Atriplex canescens var. angustifolia, Fourwing Saltbush, (AZ, CA);
Atriplex canescens var. canescens, Fourwing Saltbush, (W½ US and AB Can.);
Atriplex canescens var. gigantea; Fourwing Saltbush, (UT);
Atriplex canescens var. laciniata, Fourwing Saltbush, (CA);
Atriplex canescens var. linearis, Thinleaf Fourwing Saltbush, (AZ, CA);
Atriplex canescens var. macilenta, Fourwing Saltbush, (CA).
Comments: Four-wing Salt Bush is highly variable with 6 varieties across its large western United States range. Additionally this species is known to hybridize with Atriplex confertifolia and Atriplex gardneri.
Atriplex canescens provides excellent habitat for small ground birds, particularly quail and is a favorite browse for wildlife and livestock including goats and sheep.
Atriplex canescens has been used for multiple purposes by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.
See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.