Plants of
South Australia
Atriplex velutinella
Sandhill Saltbush
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock painting: 1.


Atriplex from the Latin 'atriplexum' meaning an orach, a saltbush; an Ancient Latin name for this plant. Velutinella from the Latin 'velutinus' meaning velvety, referring to the appearance of the plant, covered in scaly hairs like velvet.

Distribution and status

Found across the arid part of South Australia north of Port August. Also found in Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Native. Common in South Australia. Rare in Victoria. Common in other states.
Herbarium regions: North Western, Lake Eyre, Nullarbor, Gairdner-Torrens, Flinders Ranges, Eastern, Eyre Peninsula, Murray
NRM regions: Alinytjara Wilurara, Eyre Peninsula, South Australian Arid Lands, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Erect short-lived perennial shrub to 1m high, covered in thin scales or scaly-hairs. Leaves sessile thin, broadly elliptic to broadly ovate to 3cm long; sinuate to bluntly toothed or sinuate-lobed; acute to obtuse, base cuneate to rounded. Male and female flowers on the same plant. Flowers in mixed clusters, axillary or forming interrupted spikes. Fruits are pale-brown, narrowly to broadly-triangular fruit to 8mm long, free except at the short broad-cuneate base; entire or toothed at the base; almost glabrous to tomentose; smooth or with 1 or 2 tubercles on either side near the base. Seeds are black elliptic reniform seed to 1.5mm long and 1mm wide. Seed embryo type is peripheral.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between January and December. Collect fruits that are starting to turn pale-brown, drying off and papery. Fruits can be collected directly from the bush or from the ground underneath. 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 clean 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. From one collection, the seed viability was high, at 85%.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
22,890 (64 g)
22,890 (64 g)
Lake Eyre
BGA63,000 (78.37 g)5018-May-2007RJB71886
North Western
Location: BGA — the seeds are stored at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, MSB — the seeds are stored at the Millennium Seed Bank, Kew, England.
Number of plants: This is the number of plants from which the seeds were collected.
Collection location: The Herbarium of South Australia's region name.
% Viability: Percentage of filled healthy seeds determined by a cut test or x-ray.