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Gardner's orache, Gardner's sagebrush, Gardner's saltbrush, Gardner's saltbush, Nuttall's saltbush

Habit Herbs, annual. Shrubs or subshrubs, dioecious or monoecious, 1–10 dm, unarmed.
Stems

erect, ascending, or procumbent, much branched, obtusely angled, 1–6 dm, stout, scurfy when young.

prostrate to ascending, or less commonly erect.

Leaves

alternate or proximalmost opposite or subopposite;

petiole to 1.5 cm or sessile;

blade paler abaxially, oblong or oval, lanceolate, or elliptic to broadly obovate or narrowly oblong, 10–40(–60) × (2–)4–20 mm, base rounded to cuneate, margin entire or undulate, rarely with 1–2 teeth, apex rounded to acute, mucronate, thin, often densely white scurfy beneath, grayish green and glabrate above.

± persistent, alternate or opposite to subopposite (especially proximally), sessile to petiolate;

blade linear to oblanceolate, obovate, spatulate, or orbiculate, 5–55 × 2–25 mm, base cuneate, margin entire (rarely dentate), apex retuse to obtuse or rounded.

Staminate flowers

yellow or brown, in numerous clusters 2–4 mm wide, in spikes or panicles 2–30 cm.

Pistillate flowers

fascicled in axils.

in spikes or panicles to 30 cm.

Seeds

reddish brown, 2 mm.

tan or brown, 1.5–2.5 mm wide.

Staminate

glomerules terminal or in dense or interrupted, terminal or axillary, naked spikes or shortly branched panicles.

Fruiting

bracteoles subsessile or with stipes to 1 mm, cuneate-orbiculate, compressed, 4.5–7 × 3.5–5.6 mm, typically longer than wide, united to middle, apex rounded, 3–5-toothed, teeth subequal, sides irregularly tuberculate or with 2 lateral dentate crests, rarely not appendaged.

bracteoles 2–9 × 2–9 mm, bearing tubercles or wings or tubercles aligned in 4 rows or rarely smooth, apex toothed and usually with 2 or more lateral teeth.

2n

= 18.

Atriplex mucronata

Atriplex gardneri

Phenology Flowering summer–fall.
Habitat Sandy seashores, salt marshes
Elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Distribution
from FNA
AL; FL; LA; MA; MD; MS; NC; NH; NJ; TX; VA
[BONAP county map]
from FNA
AZ; CA; CO; ID; MT; ND; NE; NM; NV; OR; SD; UT; WA; WY; AB; MB; SK; Mexico
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
Discussion

Problems with prior applications of the name Atriplex mucronata lie in the mistaken determination of the place of publication as Amer. Monthly Mag. & Crit. Rev. 2: 176. 1818 (where the name is only mentioned), instead of 2: 119. 1817 (where accompanied by a description and notes). H. M. Hall and F. E. Clements (1923) evidently relied on P. C. Standley’s (1916) interpretation, which indicated the wrong citation (see also A. dioica Rafinesque as an identical example). Hall and Clements applied the name mucronata to their interpretation of A. patula subsp. hastata or to A. hastata (i.e., to A. prostrata according to this treatment).

The treatment of Obione by C. H. B. A. Moquin-Tandon (1849) included “A. mucronata Rafin.!” as a synonym of O. arenaria. Possibly a sheet in the Prodromus herbarium at Geneva was the basis for that decision. It has two mounted specimens, one labeled A. arenaria Nuttall, collected by Nuttall in “N. Jersey, 1826,” and a second labeled “Atriplex mucronata Rafinesque (A. arenaria Nuttall, N. Jersey) Maritime NY, Rafinesque 1819.” From that information (although the year is 1819, not 1817), and from the description of the taxon, it seems clear that A. arenaria Nuttall is a later synonym of A. mucronata Rafinesque by at least half a year.

H. A. Gleason and A. Cronquist (1991) indicated that this taxon, by whatever name, is “perhaps better treated as a variety of the more tropical Atriplex pentandra (Jacquin) Standley, but the proper nomenclatural combination not yet made.” The present writer agrees with that conclusion, but such subjugation might indicate further contraction into the species of additional closely related taxa, e.g., A. wrightii, which is clearly closely allied as well.

Plants from the coastal states from New England south to New Jersey are much alike and seldom, if ever, display prominent, terminal, naked spikes or panicles with beadlike glomerules of staminate flowers. Plants from Florida westward sometimes have such staminate spikes or panicles.

Specimens from Florida and some from Texas can be distinguished from Atriplex pentandra only with difficulty, especially those individuals with entire leaves. However, the fruiting bracteole length-width ratio and overall shape, with some allowance for overlap, can serve to distinguish most specimens; those of A. mucronata are proportionately longer than broad and, on average, larger.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Varieties 7 (7 in the flora).

This is a widely distributed complex of intergrading genotypes of great phenotypic plasticity. The members occur commonly in fine-textured saline substrates in much of the western Great Plains and in the Intermountain Region. Diploids, triploids, tetraploids, and hexaploids (and higher polyploids, all multiples of the base number 9) are known within the complex, and hybrids are known not only between the constituents but with the other woody species which they contact, i.e., Atriplex canescens, A. confertifolia, and A. corrugata. Indeed, a case can be made for treating both A. gardneri and A. canescens within an expanded A. canescens. They are regarded here as forming two intergrading complexes, with some of the constituent varieties placed equally well within either of the species aggregations. The treatment essentially follows the alignment of taxa suggested by C. A. Hanson (1962), with the exception that they are reduced to varietal status and var. bonnevillensis and var. aptera are placed within the A. gardneri phase and not with A. canescens.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Key
1. Fruiting bracteoles with 4 lateral wings or rows of tubercles; staminate flowers yellow or tan to brown; w Utah, e Nevada, and the w Great Plains
→ 2
1. Fruiting bracteoles lacking lateral wings, tubercles, when present, often ± aligned; staminate flowers dark brown or yellow, but if yellow; different or various distribution
→ 3
2. Staminate flowers mainly tan to brown; Great Basin
var. bonnevillensis
2. Staminate flowers mainly yellow; w Great Plains
var. aptera
3. Lower leaves opposite or subopposite; stems usually prostrate to ascending; from the Four Corners region n to Canada, and e to Manitoba, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and n Colorado
→ 4
3. Lower leaves alternate; stems often ascending to erect; various distribution
→ 5
4. Leaves mainly 1-2.5 cm wide, grayish green; bracteoles 5-9 mm wide, densely tuberculate; Uinta and Navajo basins, Utah, Colo rado, New Mexico
var. cuneata
4. Leaves mainly 0.5-1.2 cm wide, green; bracteoles 2-5 mm wide, not tuberculate or the tubercles very short; ne Utah, n to Canada and w Great Plains
var. gardneri
5. Staminate flowers mostly brown; fruiting bracteoles tapering to an acuminate apex, with apical teeth united 1/2 of length, lacking lateral teeth; Great Basin e to ne Utah, s Idaho, w Oregon, and e Washington
var. falcata
5. Staminate flowers mostly yellow; fruiting bracteoles with apex either not acuminate or truncate, the apical teeth free, subtended by lateral teeth; various distribution
→ 6
6. Leaves mainly 5-15 times longer than wide; pistillate flowers in spikes; Grand County, Utah
var. welshii
6. Leaves mainly less than 5 times longer than wide, or if longer then of different distribution; pistillate flowers in panicles; Great Basin e to Wyoming and e Utah (and nw Arizona)
var. utahensis
Source FNA vol. 4, p. 362. FNA vol. 4.
Parent taxa Chenopodiaceae > Atriplex > subg. Obione > sect. Obione > subsect. Arenariae Chenopodiaceae > Atriplex > subg. Pterochiton
Sibling taxa
A. acanthocarpa, A. amnicola, A. argentea, A. californica, A. canescens, A. confertifolia, A. cordulata, A. coronata, A. corrugata, A. coulteri, A. covillei, A. dioica, A. elegans, A. fruticulosa, A. gardneri, A. garrettii, A. glabriuscula, A. gmelinii, A. graciliflora, A. heterosperma, A. holocarpa, A. hortensis, A. hymenelytra, A. joaquiniana, A. klebergorum, A. laciniata, A. lentiformis, A. leucophylla, A. lindleyi, A. linearis, A. littoralis, A. matamorensis, A. nudicaulis, A. nummularia, A. oblongifolia, A. obovata, A. pacifica, A. parishii, A. parryi, A. patula, A. pentandra, A. phyllostegia, A. pleiantha, A. polycarpa, A. powellii, A. prostrata, A. pusilla, A. rosea, A. saccaria, A. semibaccata, A. serenana, A. spinifera, A. suberecta, A. suckleyi, A. tatarica, A. torreyi, A. truncata, A. tularensis, A. watsonii, A. wolfii, A. wrightii
A. acanthocarpa, A. amnicola, A. argentea, A. californica, A. canescens, A. confertifolia, A. cordulata, A. coronata, A. corrugata, A. coulteri, A. covillei, A. dioica, A. elegans, A. fruticulosa, A. garrettii, A. glabriuscula, A. gmelinii, A. graciliflora, A. heterosperma, A. holocarpa, A. hortensis, A. hymenelytra, A. joaquiniana, A. klebergorum, A. laciniata, A. lentiformis, A. leucophylla, A. lindleyi, A. linearis, A. littoralis, A. matamorensis, A. mucronata, A. nudicaulis, A. nummularia, A. oblongifolia, A. obovata, A. pacifica, A. parishii, A. parryi, A. patula, A. pentandra, A. phyllostegia, A. pleiantha, A. polycarpa, A. powellii, A. prostrata, A. pusilla, A. rosea, A. saccaria, A. semibaccata, A. serenana, A. spinifera, A. suberecta, A. suckleyi, A. tatarica, A. torreyi, A. truncata, A. tularensis, A. watsonii, A. wolfii, A. wrightii
Subordinate taxa
A. gardneri var. aptera, A. gardneri var. bonnevillensis, A. gardneri var. cuneata, A. gardneri var. falcata, A. gardneri var. gardneri, A. gardneri var. utahensis, A. gardneri var. welshii
Synonyms A. arenaria, A. cristata var. arenaria, A. pentandra subsp. arenaria Obione gardneri, A. nuttallii subsp. gardneri, A. nuttallii var. gardneri
Name authority Rafinesque: Amer. Monthly Mag. & Crit. Rev. 2(2): 119. (1817) (Moquin-Tandon) D. Dietrich: Syn. Pl. 5: 537. (1852)
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