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DESERT SALTBUSH

DESERT SALTBUSH

Desert saltbush (Atriplex polycarpa) is abundant in wide desert valleys and plains from southern California to central Arizona, often growing in pure stands. The tiny evergreen leaves are grey-coloured due to the deposits of salt excreted from 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. In this species the leaves and flowers are often clustered.



Close-up of the flowering stems of desert saltbush



Scattered desert saltbush plants in a flat, alkaline site with a finely grained alluvial soil in the Sonoran Desert (Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona). Much of the soil surface is covered with a cryptobiotic crust consisting of cyanobacteria and desert lichens (the darker grey areas of soil surface). The devil's cholla is one of the few other plants that tolerates these conditions.

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This site is no longer maintained and has been left for archival purposes

Text and links may be out of date