Atriplex heterosperma (Gintzburger et al., 2003)

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Anabasis salsa
Gintzburger et al., Rangelands in Uzbekistan, 2003
Atriplex heterosperma (Gintzburger et al., 2003)
Camphorosma lessingii
Atriplex heterosperma
Atriplex heterosperma


Atriplex heterosperma Bge

Local name:

  • Russian: Лебеда, олабута - lebeda, olabuta
  • Uzbek: Olabuta
  • Turkmen: Sel’me

Chromosome number: 2n = 18 (Tarnavschii 1948; Zahareva 1968; Fedorov 1969); 2n = 18, 20 (Turner 1994).

Description and morphology: Annual, herbaceous plant (height 40–100 cm) with silvery plentiful leaves and erect branched stalk. Stem: slender woody, strongly ramified. Leaves: above – alternate, triangular or ovoid (2–4 cm long), petiolate; margin coarsely dentate; opposite at the base, petiolate, broadly or narrowly triangular or lanceolate-hastate, sinuate-dentate or lobed. Flowers: clusters on axillary of upper leaves forming a pyramidal panicle and assembled in spikes; chiefly monoecious: male tetra or pentamerous in small glomerule. Bracteoles of female flowers wide triangular, round or sometimes 3-lobed, imarginate, frequently with appendages on dorsal side. Pollen grains 3-celled, penta-polyporate. Ovule unilocular, orto-amphitropous, crassi-nucellate, bitegmic.

Reproduction: Typical anemophilous plant, geitonogamy is admitted. Polyploidy, apomixis, heterospermy, polyembryony and heterocarpic. Flowering and fruit maturation: April–September. Fruit: utricle, small, black and lens-shaped with a glossy, smooth testa and 5-lobed perianth embraced by expanding bracts. Fruiting bracteoles soft and spongy, broadly bell-shaped, (7–16 mm high), usually sessile, rarely with stipe to 5–8 mm long. Three types of fruits differing both morphologically (mainly in colour and presence or absence of bracteoles) and physiologically (in dormancy and level of germination). Seed: heterogeneous large, orbicular or lenticular, flattened yellow-dark brown, rough (2–4 mm); small, shining, prominent, reddish-brown (1.2–2 mm) with curved embryo surrounded by perisperm and traces of endosperm. Seed coat accreted with thin fruiting body. Seeds deeply dormant with a low level of germination, form a long lasting seed bank. Dormancy B1–B3 type. Viable seeds: 67–85%; germination 28–63%. Seed longevity 7–9 months. Various chemical treatments and long-term stratification(15/25 °C, night/day) for 12 months in 12 hour (dark/light) cycle stimulate germination.

Pastoral importance: Well grazed by sheep and horses during the whole period of plant growth, especially in autumn-winter after mineral salts have leached from plant tissues. Probably the best forage for cattle in wet cold weather. Green forage production on sandy plains about 0.6–0.8 t/ha. Rich in mineral substances and vitamins. Potential plant for range restoration of salty/loamy sand and alkaline soil.

Fodder value: Low palatability and nutritional qualities. At flowering contains (% DM): crude protein 12; cellulose 12; fat 2.0; ash 24. Estimated 29–30 FU and 3.2 kg digestible protein/ 100 kg DM.

Habitat: Halophyte. Widely distributed on all plains, in high and low foothills of semi-arid areas, on salt-marsh and solonchak on shores of saline lakes in desert environment.

Distribution: Central Asia, European part of Russia, West Siberia, southern Europe, Mongolia, Iran, Himalayas, Tibet and China.