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.
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.
Genus Information: In North America there are over 107 species and 124 accepted taxa overall for Atriplex. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 258 accepted species names and a further 350 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus.
In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 25 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.
Importance to Wildlife
Atriplex canescens provides excellent habitat for small ground birds, particularly quail and is a favorite browse for wildlife and livestock including goats and sheep.
The genus Atriplex originated in Latin (derived from the Greek name "atraphaxes" or atriplex. The name was applied to the "edible oraches" (the common name of Atriplex is saltbush and orache). The species epithet "canescens" is from the Latin verb "caneo" meaning "I am white, I become grey or hoary and (figuratively) I grow old), loosely translated means covered with short gray or white hairs.
Ethno-Herbalist: Southern California Ethnobotany; Ethnobotany of Southern California Native Plants: Four-wing Salt Bush,Atriplex canescens.
Atriplex canescens has been used for multiple purposes by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.
Diegueno Other, Soap; Leaves formerly used as soap.
Gosiute Food, Unspecified; Seeds used for food.
Havasupai Drug, Misc. Disease Remedy; Leaves made into a soapy lather and used to wash the hair and for itches or rashes, such as chickenpox or measles.
Hopi Drug, Ceremonial Medicine; Plant used for kiva fires.
Navajo Food, Pie & Pudding; Flowers used to make puddings
Shoshoni Drug, Cathartic; Decoction of fresh roots with salt taken as a physic.
Zuni Drug, Dermatological Aid; Poultice of fresh or dried flower used for ant bites.
Zuni Drug, Hunting Medicine; Twigs attached to prayer plumes and sacrificed to the cottontail rabbit to ensure good hunting.
See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.