Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Atriplex torreyi var. griffithsii, Griffiths Saltbush

Griffiths Saltbush has greenish yellow flowers, unisexual in small clusters. Female flowers are arranged in interrupted terminal spikes on leafy-based panicles. Seeds are small. Atriplex torreyi var. griffithsii Griffiths Saltbush has greenish-white leaves covered with fine scurf. The leaves are thick and with variable shapes from oblong, or ovoid. The leaves have rounded edges and a few leaves are even hastate; some leaves with a medium-sized petiole, others with short-petioles. Atriplex torreyi var. griffithsii Griffiths Saltbush is a shrub or sub-shrub; plants light green-gray or whitish, branches many, slender, striately angled, without spines. Atriplex torreyi var. griffithsii Griffiths Saltbush is rare in the USA and found only in small places in Arizona and New Mexico. Plants bloom from spring through winter and prefer elevations from seal level to 3,600 feet. Atriplex torreyi var. griffithsii

Scientific Name: Atriplex torreyi var. griffithsii
Common Name: Griffiths Saltbush

Also Called: Griffiths' Saltbush

Family: Chenopodiaceae, Goosefoot Family (now as sub-family Chenopodioideae in the Amaranthaceae Family).

Synonyms: (Atriplex lentiformis ssp. griffithsii, Atriplex torreyi var. griffithsii)

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial

Size: 1 to 3 tall and as wide (3 to 10 dm)

Growth Form: Shrub or sub-shrub; plants light green-gray or whitish, branches many, slender, striately angled, without spines.

Leaves: Leaves greenish-white, fine scurf, thick, leaf shape variable; oblong, or ovoid, leaves with rounded edges, few leaves hastate, some with medium-sized petioles others with short-petioles

Flower Color: Greenish yellow; flowers unisexual in small clusters, female flowers in interrupted terminal spikes, leafy-based panicles; seeds small.

Flowering Season: Spring to Winter

Elevation: Sea level up to 3,600 feet (0 to 1098 m).

Habitat Preferences: Alkaline soil, Saline soils; in New Mexico it prefers edges of playas without long standing water, associated plants include Atriplex acanthocarpa and grasses of the genus Sporobolus.

Recorded Range: Griffiths Saltbush is very rare in the United States at it is only found in only Willcox, Arizona.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Atriplex torreyi var. griffithsii.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.

Threatened/Endangered Information: Atriplex torreyi var. griffithsii is ranked as "Imperiled" under Rounded Global Status: G2 -
NatureServe: "This species is endemic to a small area in southwest New Mexico and southeast Arizona. It is restricted to the highly saline edges of playas and only occurs in three general areas that occur at approximately the same latitude. The largest and most secure populations apparently occur in the middle of its range. In the past occurrences both near Deming, NM and on the Wilcox Playa, AZ have failed to be relocated."

Genus Information: In North America there are over 110 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.

Comments: The type collection (Griffiths, 1985) is from Willcox, Cochise County, Arizona. Although this species is thought to closely resemble Atriplex lentiformis, for which it was described as a subspecies thereof, it is actually a subspecies of Atriplex torreyi.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see: Australian Saltbush, Atriplex semibaccata, Desertholly, Atriplex hymenelytra, Four-wing Salt Bush, Atriplex canescens, and Wheelscale Saltbush, Atriplex elegans.

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 "griffithsii" is in honor to David Griffiths (1867-1935), an American botanist born in Aberystwyth, Wales, but emigrated to the United States with his family at 3 years of age and grew up on a farm in South Dakota.

No information available.

Date Profile Completed: 09/01/2019
Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, Arizona Flora, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California; as Atriplex griffithsii
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 08/28/2019)
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 08/28/2019).
Stanley L. Welsh, Clifford W. Crompton & Steven E. Clemants, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 4 |Chenopodiaceae | Atriplex | 59b. Atriplex torreyi (S. Watson) S. Watson var. griffithsii (Standley) G. D. Brown, Amer. Midl. Naturalist. 55: 205. 1956. Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
Elizabeth H. Zacharias 2013, Atriplex torreyi var. torreyi, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, Revision 1,, accessed on August 30, 2019.
NatureServe. 2019. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia.
Available (Accessed: August 30, 2019 ).
New Mexico Native Plant Protection Advisory Committee. 1984. A handbook of rare and endemic plants of New Mexico. Univ. New Mexico Press, Albuquerque. 291 pp.
Michael Charters, California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations - A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology Compiled by Michael L. Charters - (accessed 08/29/2019) - Excellent site.
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information, (accessed 08/20/2019).