Common name: Old Man Saltbush

Family: CHENOPODIACEAE

Origin of Scientific Name

Atriplex nummularia is commonly known as Old Man Saltbush. Photo: D. Blumer.View image slideshow

Atriplex – (Latin) name for the garden herb orach, which can be used like spinach.

nummularia – (Latin) from numus – a silver coin, referring to the round, silvery or grey leaves.

Description

Atriplex nummularia is the largest of the Australian saltbushes, growing approximately one-three metres in height and two-four metres wide. Found naturally in the central and southern arid regions of Western Australia from the Avon Wheatbelt to the Nullabor in clay or sandy loam.

Old Man Saltbush has whitish, brittle and woody branches with bluish-grey serrated leaves that are covered in a scaly white layer giving them an attractive silvery appearance. From June to September Atriplex nummularia produces small, yellow brown flowers that are wind pollinated. Male and female flowers occur on separate plants with male flowers borne in small terminal clusters and female flowers borne in dense long terminal clusters.

Atriplex nummularia can be used as an ornamental garden plant, or for planting in informal hedges or windbreaks, providing an appealing silvery contrast against darker plants in the garden. It is also useful for roadside plantings as the foliage is readily visible at night when lit by headlights.

Horticultural tips

  • Readily grown from seed, which can be collected easily.
  • Plants can also be propagated using cuttings of firm young growth.
  • It grows naturally in heavy soils in full sun but is very adaptable to a full range of soils including alkaline soils.

For more horticultural tips view our Plant Notes section.

View in Kings Park

Visit Kings Park and Botanic Garden to see Atriplex nummularia in the desert beds at the entry to the Western Australian Botanic Garden.

Want more information?

Refer to the profile for this plant on the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions' FloraBase online herbarium.

Atriplex nummularia is an ideal ornamental garden plant. Photo: D. Blumer. Atriplex nummularia growing in the desert beds Kings Park and Botanic Garden. Photo: D. Blumer.

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