Natural populations

Atriplex semibaccata is widespread in the eastern and southern states with a separate population in Western Australia and scattered occurrences in central arid areas. It was introduced to Tasmania and some mainland areas for grazing in saline areas [1, 2]. Informal reference to two forms is given in the Flora of Australia based on the fruiting bracteoles. In QLD and northern NSW the bracteoles are predominantly thin, dry, tending to deltoid in shape, whereas in the south and in WA, they are rhomboid and succulent [1]. The species intergrades with A. spinibractea in NSW and a variant with dry bracteoles found in northern QLD was described as A. neurivalvis [1]. Atriplex semibaccata is usually found in clay, clay loams and loam soils but also occurs on sandy loams (sometimes slightly saline), in woodland, saline flats and edges of salt lakes, and is a coloniser of disturbed areas [3, 4, 5, 6].

Flowering and seeds

Flowers and fruits in spring and summer, with flowering occurring later in WA when compared to the eastern and southern states [6, 11, 14, 16, 44].  The fruit is fleshy and juicy and is eaten and dispersed by animals [90]. The plant produces prolific quantities of seed [17]. A characteristic of Atriplex species is non-deep physiological dormancy [62], although methods to overcome dormancy may not have similar enhancing effects across the whole genus [63]. Atriplex semibaccata does not appear to exhibit dormant characteristics with successful high germination rates with no pre-treatment recorded [90].

Cultivation and uses

High tolerance to salt, with a record of 15 Max dS/m [2], it is an excellent coloniser of salt scalds [4].  As a component of saltland pasture, it can provide supplement feed in summer and winter when other sources of paddock feed are less available [8]. Atriplex semibaccata is not sought after by stock but is of the more readily grazed of the Atriplex saltbushes and is considered a valuable species either as a source of variety in the diet or as a major component [4].

Key descriptors:
Climate parameters
Mean annual rainfall: 250-900 mm
Rainfall distribution pattern: summer, uniform or winter
Mean annual temperature: 10-23 °C
Mean max. temperature of the hottest month: 27-36 °C
Mean min. temperature of the coldest month: 0-10 °C
Frosts (approx. no. per year): greater than 20
Frost intensity: light to moderate (0 to -5°C)
Altitude: 0-750 metres
Tolerance of climate extremes
Drought: known to be tolerant of protracted droughts
Frost: tolerates frosts in the 0° to -5°C range
Wind: tolerates salt-laden coastal winds
Soil factors
Texture: clay loam, light to medium clay (35-50% clay) or loam, sandy loam, sandy clay loam
Soil pH reaction: acidic (less than 6.5)
Drainage:  seasonally waterlogged
Salinity: slightly to moderately saline
Tolerance of adverse soils
Extremes in pH: acidity
Salinity: high (9-16 dS m-1)
Biological traits under cultivation
Habit: evergreen groundcover
Longevity: short-lived less than 15 years
Growth rate: fast
Root system: lignotuberous or forms a tuber
Erosion control potential: excellent for clayey sites
Shade tolerance: grows best in full sunlight
Potentially undesirable attributes
Foliage: highly susceptible to browsing by animals


[1] Flora of Australia (1982 to 2007) Volumes 2 to 47, CSIRO Publishing and the Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra.

[2] State Herbarium of South Australia (2007) Electronic Flora of South Australia : flora fact sheets. (Online Accessed: February 2008)

[3] Beilby G, Shoebridge B, Carland F, Dennis C, Jackson A (2006) Salt Tolerant Plants of the Western District Ramsar Lakes. Greening Australia Victoria and the Australian Plants Society Colac Otway Group.

[4] Kent K, Earl G, Mullins B, Lunt I, Webster R (2002) Native Vegetation Guide for the Riverina: notes for land managers on its management and revegetation. Charles Sturt University, NSW.

[5] Cunningham GM, Mulham WE, Milthorpe PL, Leigh JH (1992) Plants of Western New South Wales. Inkata Press, Port Melbourne, Victoria.

[6] Walsh NG, Entwisle TJ (1994 - 1999) Flora of Victoria. Volume 2 - 4, Inkata Press, Melbourne.

[7] Flynn S, Turner RM, Dickie JB (2004) Seed Information Database (Release 7.0, October 2006). (Online Accessed: July 2007).

[8] Stevens JC, Barrett-Lennard EG, Dixon KW (2006) Enhancing the germination of three fodder shrubs (Atriplex amnicola, A. nummularia, A. undulata; Chenopodiaceae): implications for the optimisation of field establishment. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 57: 1279–1289

[9] Millsom D (2002) Direct Seeding of Saltbush: Landholder-driven incentives. Ecological Management and Restoration 3: 156–166.

Internet links

PlantNet NSW Flora Online – species description & distribution: and

FloraBase Western Australia Flora Online – species description & distribution:


Greening Australia Footprint series:

Saltdeck series:

Western Australian Department of Agriculture Farmnote series - saltbush seeding rates: