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FOUR-WING SALTBUSH

FOUR-WING SALTBUSH

Four-wing saltbush (Atriplex canescens) is widespread and often dominant on salty or alkaline soils of western North America, from Mexico through to Canada. The evergreen leaves are grey-coloured due to the deposits of salt excreted from tiny hairs onto the leaf surface - an adaptation to prevent the build-up of salt in the plant tissues. This salt deposit helps to reflect light, shielding the leaves from excessive exposure to sun. There are male and female plants. The females produce fruits with four characteristic wings, aiding wind-dispersal of the seeds. This plant is a highly nutritious browse plant for grazing animals, including cattle in years when drought restricts the growth of grasses.



Close-up of the narrow grey-green leaves and fruits with four paper-like wings

Four-wing saltbush is a perennial plant, growing to a height of 1 metre or more and retaining its leaves throughout the year. It exhibits C4 photosynthesis - an adaptation that enables it to photosynthesise on even the hottest days.


Typical appearance of four-wing saltbush


Flat, arid landscape dominated by four-wing saltbush

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This site is no longer maintained and has been left for archival purposes

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