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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Spreading Atriplex

Scientific Name: Atriplex patula L.

Other Names: arroche étalée, Orache, Spreading orache, arroche des champs

Family: Goosefoot Family (Chenopodoiaceae)

General Description: Annual, reproducing only by seed.

Habitat: Spreading atriplex is a native plant in both saline and non-saline moist soils throughout Ontario but frequently occurs as a weed in gardens, waste areas, and row crops in the southern part of the province.


  • Seedling with stem
  • 6 to 10 first leaves are opposite, successive leaves alternate
  • Powdery-looking


  • Prostrate or nearly erect
  • Branching pattern opposite near the base and alternate farther from the base


  • Linear to narrowly lance-shaped and without teeth or lobes or somewhat broader and with 1 or 2 lateral lobes and sometimes with a few teeth along the margins above the lobes
  • Green
  • Somewhat fleshy
  • Mostly 1- 5 cm (2/5- 2 in.) long


  • Very small
  • Unisexual
  • Male flowers:
    • With only stamens and sepals
    • No pistil or petals
  • Female flowers:
    • With only a single pistil
    • Without stamens, petals or sepals
    • Enclosed between 2 green, triangular to broadly diamond-shaped bracts about 1- 4 mm (1/25- 1/6 in.) long and wide
    • 2 to 5 of these usually clustered together in the axils of smaller leaves along nearly all the stems and branches
  • Both sexes on one plant
  • Flowers from July to September

Often Confused With
Lamb’s-Quarters (Spreading atriplex is distinguished from Lamb’s-quarters by its several pairs of opposite leaves and branches, and its triangular to diamond-shaped bracts enclosing each flower.)

Spreading Atriplex  Atriplex plant Spreading atriplex seedling Spreading atriplex
Click to enlarge.