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Yavapai County Native & Naturalized Plants

Atriplex elegans - wheelscale saltbush

Synonyms: Atriplex elegans var. thornberi, Atriplex thornberi
Other Common Names: wheelscale, (Spanish: chamizo cenizo)
Plant Form: Forb

Family: Chenopodiaceae

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Flower and leaves
Patrick Alexander @
Patrick Alexander @
Forb Plant Description

Origin: Native   Life Cycle: Annual
General Desc: A bushy, much branched species of saltbush that is covered by small, silvery scales.
Identification notes: Bracts circular with toothed margins all around, distinguishes this from other Atriplex species.
Height: 1 to 3 feet


Habitat Description: Abundant in all types of soils from California to Texas.
Plant Communities: Desert Scrub, Interior Chaparral, Semidesert Grasslands, Pinyon Juniper Woodland, Disturbed Areas
Elevation: 100 - 3500 feet

Flower Characteristics

Color: Pale greenish-yellow     Shape: Irregular in round clusters     Tubular: N     Flowering Period: May - Nov
Description: Flowers are conspicuous, abundant and clustered at the base of the leaves.

Leaf and Stem Characteristics

Leaf Color: Green     Leaf Type: Simple     Leaf Shape: Narrow     Leaf Margin: Toothed     Leaf Attachment: Alternate     Leaves Clasp: N
Hairs: No     Spines: N
Leaf Description: Erect stems branch from the base. Lower leaf surface is silvery, scaled and the top surface is green.

Fruit and Seed Characteristics

Fruit Color: Light brown   
Fruit Type: Achene
Fruit Notes: Fruiting bracts are compressed and fused near the tip.
Seed Notes: The seed is enclosed between 2 wheel-shaped bracts.

  Arizona Cooperative Extension
Yavapai County
840 Rodeo Dr #C
Prescott, AZ 86305
(928) 445-6590
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Last Updated: Feb 16, 2020  
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