Atriplex canescens var. gigantea
|dune four-wing saltbush, giant four-wing Saltbush|
|Welsh & Stutz|
The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Red Butte Garden and Arboretum
The conservation of Atriplex canescens var. gigantea is fully sponsored.
Sylvia Torti contributed to this Plant Profile.
Atriplex canescens var. gigantea, or giant four-wing saltbush, is a rare variety of a common species, Atriplex canescens, or four-wing saltbush. Giant four-wing saltbush grows at only one location in the wild--the Lynndyl Dunes in Juab County, Utah. The rare var. gigantea is considered a diploid (2n) of A. canescens, which is a tetraploid (4n), and the evolutionary significance of this has been the focus of evolutionary studies (see Current Research section). Regardless, this taxon is threatened with extinction because the one location where it occurs also happens to be a recreational area where off-road vehicle use, including racing events, are popular. Plants have been killed not only by vehicles driving directly over them, but also by campers in a nearby campground who break off the branches of this shrub for campfires. (Hreha 1995)
Atriplex canescens var. gigantea is deserving of its common name, as it is a large shrub, reaching up to 12 feet in height and 15 feet in width. However, it has small leaves. The plant flowers in late June. It is dioecious, meaning male and female flowers are found on different plants. The seeds are found in the middle of "four wings", hence the common name, four-wing saltbush.
Distribution & Occurrence
These shrubs are found only on sand dunes. They are most often seen in inter-dunal valleys (swales) or on the active, leeward dune margins (protected against the wind).
|One known population in Jericho Dunes in Juab County, UT (Hreha 1995)|
Conservation, Ecology & Research
The genetics, distributional, phenological and vegetative characteristics of this giant variety are remarkably different from those of its common relative, Atriplex canescens.
Source: Hreha 1995
Winter grazing cattle and wildlife
High visitor use in campground areas (fire wood collection, wind shelters)
Dry flower arrangements and use as landscape plants in desert landscapes
Barrow (1997) studied natural asexual reproduction in fourwing saltbush Atriplex canescens.
As the result of a 1992 and 1993 Utah challenge cost share project between the Bureau of Land Management and the Red Butte Garden and Arboretum, the known population was surveyed and seeds were collected for propagation and storage. From this, management strategies were developed. (Hreha 1995)
Stutz, H.C.; Sanderson, S.C. 1979. The role of polyploidy in the evolution of Atriplex canescens. In: Goodin, J.R.; Northington, D.K., editors. Arid Land Plant Resources. Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University, International Center for Arid and Semi-Arid Land