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What is an Atriplex?

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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2016
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Atriplex is a genus of plant that contains more than 100 different species. The group of plants is also sometimes known as saltbush. Due to the large number of different species, the Atriplex group of plants can be found in a variety of different places around the world. Many of the species contained within the Atriplex group are edible to humans including the A. Hortensis, which is more commonly known as the Garden Orache. Some of the species are also used as ornamental plants.

The reason that Atriplex plants are sometimes known as saltbushes is that they can grow in soil that would be too salty for other plants. Another reason is that they keep a large amount of salt in the leaves. For this reason, the plants are often used in areas that suffer from high levels of soil salination.

Atriplex plants are often found in dry desert regions as well as along the coast. Some species thrive in dry conditions while others prefer moist environments. The many different species of the group have adapted to be comfortable in a range of different regions around the world.

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Atriplex plants are used for a number of different purposes. For example, many are edible and are popular as food. Other plants are also used for ornamental reasons and are commonly found in landscaped gardens. Some of the plants are even used to prevent soil erosion near the coast due to the plants ability to live in soil which contains high levels of salt.

An interesting use of certain species is in sheep farming. It has been shown that sheep that graze on certain types of saltbush are generally healthier than sheep that eat other types of food. The sheep also contain higher levels of vitamin E, which helps the meat to last longer on the shelf. River saltbush is most commonly used for this purpose as it seems to be preferred by sheep to other species such as the Old Man Saltbush.

The Garden Orache is probably the most famous species contained within the group and is also the most commonly eaten. It is also sometimes called the Red Orache and Mountain Spinach and is characterized by its slightly acidic taste. To many people the Garden Orache has a similar taste to spinach. It is traditionally grown in the Mediterranean regions, although it has since spread to many other parts of the world.

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