Plants of
South Australia
Atriplex acutibractea ssp. acutibractea
Pointed Saltbush
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 4

Prior names

Atriplex acutibractea ssp. whyallensis, nom.illeg.

Atriplex leptocarpa var. acuminata


Atriplex from the Latin 'atriplexum' meaning an orach, a saltbush, an Ancient Latin name for this plant. Acutibractea from the Latin 'acutus' meaning sharp or pointed and 'bractea' meaning bracts, referring to the pointed bracteoles.

Distribution and status

Found across the semi-arid regions of South Australia, growing in various habitats most frequently in mallee on red earth soils or limestone-rich sandy soils. Also found in Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria. Native. Common in South Australia. Rare in Victoria. Uncommon in new South Wales. Common in Western Australia.
Herbarium regions: North Western, Lake Eyre, Nullarbor, Gairdner-Torrens, Flinders Ranges, Eastern, Eyre Peninsula, Murray, Yorke Peninsula, Southern Lofty, Green Adelaide
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Alinytjara Wilurara, Eyre Peninsula, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Arid Lands, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Monoecious, erect short lived perennial shrub to 50 cm with intricately, stiff tangled branches covered in grey, mealy hairs. Leaves sessile or with short petioles; lamina usually more or less flat, to 30 mm long. Flowers in clusters, axillary or forming short interrupted spikes, yellowish-green. Flowering between July to October. Fruiting bracteoles oblong with steeply pointed apex, to 8 mm long with a narrow to stout pedicel. Seeds are brown, circular convex. Seed embryo type is peripheral. This subspecies can be distinguish from the other subspecies found in South Australia, A. acutibractea ssp. karoniensis which have leaves more or less folded to 10 mm long, fruiting bracteoles subsessile, swollen, oblong to narrow-deltoid, to 4 mm long, truncate with a short central triangular lobe or minutely 3-toothed and appendages absent or represented by a pair of small tubercles on each bracteole.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between October and January. Collect ripe straw coloured fruits, check that they contain viable seeds. Fruits can be collected directly from the bush or from the ground underneath. Remove twigs and other plant material. Place the fruits in a tray and leave to dry for one to two weeks. No cleaning is required if only the fruits are collected. The seed can be stored in the fruit or can be cleaned further. Rub the fruit gently by hand to dislodge the seeds. Use a sieve to separate the unwanted material. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place. Seed viability can be high but seed availability can be low.