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Fourwing saltbush is a polymorphic species varying from deciduous to evergreen, depending on climate. Its much-branched stems are stout with whitish bark. Mature plants range from 1 to over 8 feet in height, depending on ecotype and the soil and climate. Its leaves are simple, alternate, entire, linear-spatulate to narrowly oblong, canescent (covered with fine whitish hairs) and ½ to 2 inches long. Its root system is branched and commonly very deep (to 20 feet) when soil depth allows.

Fourwing saltbush is mostly dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants. Male flowers are red to yellow and form dense spikes at the ends of the branches. The female flowers are axillary and nondescript. However, some monecious plants may be found within a population. Fourwing saltbush plants can exhibit hermaphroditic characteristics (male and female parts in one flower). The seed is contained in utricles that turn a dull yellow when ripe and may remain attached to the plant throughout winter.

Fourwing saltbush derives its name from the four membranous ‘winged’ capsules, which encompass the seed. It is most commonly called fourwing saltbush, but is also known as chamise, chamize, chamiso, white greasewood, saltsage, fourwing shadscale, and bushy atriplex.


Public Domain

USDA NRCS Idaho State Office & Aberdeen Plant Materials Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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