This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Annual or perennial herbs or low shrubs, often scurfy-canescent or silvery. Leaves alternate, petioled or sessile, or soime of them opposite. Flowers dioecious or monoecious, small, green, in panicled spikes or capitate-clustered in the axils. Staminate flowers bract-less, consisting of a 3-5-parted calyx and an equal number of stamens; filaments separate or united by their bases; a rudimentary ovary sometimes present. Pistillate flowers sub-tended by 2 bractlets which enlarge in fruit and are more or less united, sometimes quite to their summits, their margins entire or toothed, their sides smooth, crested, tubercled or winged; perianth none; ovary globose or ovoid; stigmas 2. Utricle completely or partially enclosed by the fruiting bractlets. Seed vertical or rarely horizontal; embryo annular, the radicle pointing upward or downward; endosperm mealy. [From a Greek name of orache.]
About 130 species, of very wide geographic distribution. Besides the following, some 50 others occur in the western parts of North America. Type species: Atriplex hortensis L.
Annual herbs; stems or branches erect, diffuse or ascending.
Leaves hastate, ovate to rhombic-lanceolate or linear-lanceolate.
Plant very scurfy; leaves rhombic-ovate, short-petioled.
Plant densely silvery; leaves hastate, entire or little toothed.
Leaves oblong, densely silvery, entire; plant of sea beaches.
Perennial herbs or shrubs; leaves oblong or oblanceolate, entire; plants of the western plains.
Fruiting bractlets suborbicular, wingless, their sides crested or tubercled.
Fruiting bractlets appendaged by 4 vertical reticulated wings.
Atriplex hastata L. Sp. Pl. 1053. 1753. Atriplex patula L. Sp. Pl. 1053. 1753. Atriplex littoralis L. Sp. Pl. 1054. 1753. A. patulum var. hastatum A. Gray, Man. Ed. 5, 409. 1867.
Annual, green or purple, somewhat scurfy, at least when young; stems erect, diffuse or ascending, branched, 1°-3° tall. Leaves slender-petioled, acuminate, linear-lanceolate to broadly triangular-hastate, entire or sparingly toothed, 1'-6' long, truncate or narrowed at the base, the basal lobes divergent, acute or acuminate; flowers in panicled interrupted slender mostly leafless spikes, and usually also capitate in the upper axils; fruiting bract-lets united only at the base, fleshy, triangular or rhombic, 3"-4" wide, their sides often tubercled; radicle of the embryo ascending.
In salt meadows and waste places, most abundant near the coast, Nova Scotia to South Carolina, Ohio and Missouri and in saline soil, Manitoba to British Columbia, Nebraska and Utah and on the Pacific Coast. Also in Europe. Consists of many races, differing in leaf-form and in width of the bractlets. Lamb's-quarters. Fat-hen. Aug.-Oct.