Overview

Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Ariz., Calif., Nev., Utah.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Shrubs, dioecious, 3-15+ dm, as wide, unarmed. Leaves persistent, alternate, petiolate; blade greenish to silvery white, orbiculate to reniform or oval, 10-40 mm, as wide or wider, prominently dentate, teeth to 10 mm, permanently scurfy. Staminate flowers yellow to purple-brown, in clusters 3-4 mm thick, borne in panicles to 3 cm. Pistillate flowers borne in inflorescences similar to staminate ones. Fruiting bracteoles sessile, rather prominently veined, orbiculate to reniform, strongly compressed, 7-10 × 7-10 mm, thin, united at base, margin entire to crenate, glabrous, lacking processes. Seeds brown, 2 mm wide; radicle sublateral. 2n = 18.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Obione hymenelytra Torrey in War Department [U.S.], Pacif. Railr. Rep. 4(5): 119. 1857
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Ecology

Habitat

Mojave Desert Habitat

This taxon is found in the Mojave Desert, the smallest of the four North American deserts. While the Mojave lies between the Great Basin Shrub Steppe and the Sonoran Desert, its fauna is more closely allied with the lower Colorado division of the Sonoran Desert. Dominant plants of the Mojave include Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata), Many-fruit Saltbush (Atriplex polycarpa), Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), Desert Holly (Atriplex hymenelytra), White Burrobush (Hymenoclea salsola), and Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia), the most notable endemic species in the region.

The Mojave’s warm temperate climate defines it as a distinct ecoregion. Mojave indicator species include Spiny Menodora (Menodora spinescens), Desert Senna (Cassia armata), Mojave Indigobush (Psorothamnus arborescens), and Shockley's Goldenhead (Acamptopappus shockleyi). The Mojave supports numerous species of cacti, including several endemics, such as Silver Cholla (Opuntia echinocarpa), Mojave Prickly Pear (O. erinacea), Beavertail Cactus (O. basilaris), and Cotton-top Cactus (Echinocactus polycephalus).

While the Mojave Desert is not so biologically distinct as the other desert ecoregions, distinctive endemic communities occur throughout. For example, the Kelso Dunes in the Mojave National Preserve harbor seven species of endemic insects, including the Kelso Dunes Jerusalem Cricket (Ammopelmatus kelsoensis) and the Kelso Dunes Shieldback Katydid (Eremopedes kelsoensis). The Mojave Fringe-toed Lizard (Uma Scoparia), while not endemic to the dunes, is rare elsewhere. Flowering plants also attract butterflies such as the Mojave Sooty-wing (Pholisora libya), and the widely distributed Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui).

There are a total of eight amphibian species present in the Mojave Desert all of which are anuran species: the endemic Relict Leopard Frog (Lithobates onca); the endemic Amargosa Toad (Anaxyrus nelsoni); Lowland Leopard Frog (Lithobates yavapaiensis); Red-spotted Toad (Anaxyrus punctatus); Southwestern Toad (Anaxyrus microscaphus); Great Basin Spadefoot (Spea intermontana); Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus); and the Pacific Treefrog (Pseudacris regilla).

The native range of California’s threatened Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) includes the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. The Desert Tortoise has adapted for arid habitats by storing up to a liter of water in its urinary bladder. The following reptilian fauna are characteristic of the Mojave region in particular: Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum NT); Western Banded Gecko (Coleonyx variegatus), Northern Desert Iguana (Dipsosaurus dorsalis), Western Chuckwalla (Sauromalus obesus), and regal horned lizard (Phrynosoma solare). Snake species include the Desert Rosy Boa (Charina trivirgata gracia), Mojave Patchnose Snake (Salvadora hexalepis mojavensis), and Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus).

Endemic mammals of the ecoregion include the Mojave Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus mohavensis) and Amargosa Vole (Microtus californicus scirpensis); and the California Leaf-nosed Bat (Macrotus californicus).

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Warm desert shrub, on dry saline alluvial fans and hills; 80-1200m.
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering spring.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Wikipedia

Atriplex hymenelytra

Atriplex hymenelytra, or Desert Holly, is a silvery colored shrub of Southwestern United States deserts.[1] It is the most drought tolerant saltbush in North America.[1] It can tolerate the hottest and driest sites in Death Valley, and remains active most of the year.[1]


Range and habitat[edit]

Desert holly grows in alkaline locations such as dry washes in creosote bush scrub in the Mojave Desert and Sonoran Desert down to Baja California.[1][2]

Description[edit]

It is generally a rounded bush covered in distinctive reflective silver-gray, twisted, oblong, many-pointed leaves. It grows as a shrub ranging from 8" to 48".[1]

The silvery gray leaves are shaped like wavy holly leaves. The silvery color is from salts that collect on surface hairs.[1] This helps reflect the light and therefore reduce the amount of water lost.

The fruits are enclosed in disc-shaped bracteoles after flowering.[2]

The toothed leaves and the small reddish fruits borne on the plant give it a passing resemblance to the unrelated European holly.[2]

In its hot and dry natural habitat, male and female flowers occur on separate plants, but when artificially transplanted to cooler and wetter climates, male and female flowers may occur on the same plant.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Mojave Desert Wildflowers, Pam Mackay, 2nd ed., p 271
  2. ^ a b c http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/get_JM_treatment.pl?3084,3089,3112 Jepson
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Notes

Comments

Atriplex hymenelytra occurs with saltbush, Larrea-Ambrosia, ephedra, and yucca. This is a handsome, rounded shrub with silvery white foliage, sometimes contrasting strongly with the peculiar substrates on which it grows. Its relationships to other of the southwestern species are recondite, but possibly it is allied to A. confertifolia, with which C. A. Hanson (1962) suggested an affinity.
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