Atriplex halimoides monumentalis Sprenger
Common Name: Giant Saltbush
Plant growing in native habitat
Photograph by: Cgoodwin
Atriplex nummularia is an evergreen shrub growing 200 - 300cm tall[
]. The plant branches freely at or near ground level to form a dense shrub that is wider than it is tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of fuel. It can be grown as a hedge and windbreak and makes an excellent soil stabilizer.
The plant has escaped from cultivation (possibly for use in stabilizing land) and become established in a number of countries outside of Australia, including Israel, Egypt, S. Africa, China, Chile and southwestern N. America[
No member of this genus contains any toxins, all have more or less edible leaves. However, if grown with artificial fertilizers, they may concentrate harmful amounts of nitrates in their leaves.
Australia - inland areas of all states. Naturalized in South-western N. America.
Sandy coastal bluffs, disturbed sites; at elevations up to 2,300 metres[
]. Occurs in pure stands on limestone plains or alluvial floodplains, but also found in a range of habitats, including as an understorey species in eucalypt woodlands[
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A plant of the arid temperate and subtropical zones, where it is found at elevations up to 400 metres. It grows best in areas where the mean annual temperature is within the range 15 - 24°c, and can tolerate a mean maximum of 32 - 37°c in the hottest month and a mean minimum of 3 - 7°c in the coldest month. When dormant, the plant can survive occasional temperatures down to about -5°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at 0°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 230 - 650mm[
Requires a position in full sun in any well-drained but not too fertile soil[
]. Tolerates saline and very alkaline soils[
]. Succeeds in a hot dry position. The plant is very drought tolerant, but also tolerates seasonal inundation of the soil in its native habitat[
]. Succeeds in windy positions[
The plant responds well to pruning and will also resprout if it is cut back to ground level[
Plants are usually monoecious but can be dioecious.
Leaves and young shoots - cooked[
Seed - cooked. A traditional Aboriginal food[
]. It can be used as a piñole or be ground into a meal and used as a thickener in soups are added to flour for making bread.
The plant has been used for the treatment of scurvy and blood diseases[
The plant has excellent potential for use as a windbreak[
]. It provides a useful windbreak which, along with readily visible leaves in the lights of cars at night, makes it suitable for roadside plantings. The ornamental foliage can be pruned to make hedges and provides an attractive silvery contrast against darker plants in the garden[
With its deep root system, the plant has good potential for use to prevent soil erosion[
The wood is a high quality fuel[
Seed - sow mid spring in a cold frame in a compost of peat and sand. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 weeks at 13°c[
]. Pot up the seedlings when still small into individual pots, grow on in a greenhouse for the first winter and plant out in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts.
Rinsing seeds in flowing water for about an hour improves germination. The seeds start to germinate in about 6 days if grown at 25°c[
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, mid summer in a frame. Very easy. Pot up as soon as they start to root (about 3 weeks) and plant out in their permanent positions late in the following spring[
Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth, late autumn in a frame. Very easy. Pot up in early spring and plant out in their permanent position in early summer[