CPC Plant Profile: Fourwing Saltbush
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Plant Profile

Fourwing Saltbush (Atriplex canescens var. gigantea)

Image of Atriplex canescens var. gigantea Photo Credit: Heidi Simper
Description
  • Global Rank: T1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Amaranthaceae
  • State: UT
  • Nature Serve ID: 150507
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/09/1992

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.

Participating Institutions
Updates
  • 08/27/2020
  • Reproductive Research

The presence of numerous varieties of Atriplex canescens have made it the subject of evolutionary studies (Stutz 1975, 1979a, 1979b) Barrow (1997) studied natural asexual reproduction in fourwing saltbush Atriplex canescens.

  • 08/27/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

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)

  • 08/27/2020
  • Seed Collection

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)

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to Utah, Atriplex canescens var. gigantea occurs in the interdune valleys of the Lynndyl Sand Dunes in Juab County.

Sylvia Torti
  • 01/01/2010

Damage from Off-Road Vehicles 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

Sylvia Torti
  • 01/01/2010

One known population in Jericho Dunes in Juab County, UT (Hreha 1995)

Sylvia Torti
  • 01/01/2010

The presence of numerous varieties of Atriplex canescens have made it the subject of evolutionary studies (Stutz 1975, 1979a, 1979b) 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)

Sylvia Torti
  • 01/01/2010

This area is managed by the BLM. They are attempting to restrict off-road vehicle use to certain areas of the dunes.

Sylvia Torti
  • 01/01/2010

Continued monitoring of off-road vehicle use in the dune area, as well as a reintroduction/restoration feasibility study.

Sylvia Torti
  • 01/01/2010

Additional propagation trials to ensure a successful protocol.

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Nomenclature
Taxon Atriplex canescens var. gigantea
Authority Welsh & Stutz
Family Amaranthaceae
CPC Number 517
ITIS 192230
USDA ATCAG4
Common Names dune four-wing saltbush | giant four-wing Saltbush | fourwing saltbush
Associated Scientific Names Atriplex canescens var. gigantea
Distribution Jericho Dunes, or Lynndyl Sand Dunes, near Lynndyl, Utah. This dune field is one of the largest in Utah, at about 20 miles long and 10 miles wide (220 square miles). The Bureau of Land Management ad
State Rank
State State Rank
Utah S1
Habitat

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).

Ecological Relationships

This variety is adapted to living on sand dunes, which are constantly moving. It has a fast growth rate and the ability to send down roots from the exposed trunk into the ground. 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

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Other
Wind Confirmed Pollinator Link

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