shadscale Chenopodiaceae Atriplex
confertifolia (Torr. & Frém.) S. Watson symbol: ATCO
Leaf: Evergreen or shedding leaves during the winter and during drought, alternate, oval to nearly round, entire, thickened, 1/2 inch long, silvery gray-green and scruffy, often very sparse, crushed leaves may smell "fishy".
Flower: Species is dioecious; inconspicuous, greenish, in axillary and terminal spikes, usually appear spring.
Fruit: Technically utricles, initially green ripening to pink and then light brown, 1/2 inch, clustered at the branch tips, with two round papery wings enclosing the seed, ripen in fall and persisting.
Twig: Slender, light gray, older stems rigid, sharp-pointed, with pale scruffy scales.
Bark: Light gray-brown, older stems can become coarsely irregularly furrowed.
Form: A small multi-stemmed rounded shrub to 3 feet tall and wide. Often in nearly pure "stands" or mixed with blackbrush.
Looks like: four-wing saltbush - blackbrush - hopbush - Anderson boxthorn
Additional Range Information: Atriplex confertifolia is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting shadscale.
External Links: USDAFS Additional Silvics - USDA Plants Database
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson