Time of bloom: Late July to October.
Seed-time: September to November.
Range: Nova Scotia and Ontario to New Jersey and Ohio; also in northwestern United States and British Columbia, where it is probably native. Habitat: Sandy soil; cultivated ground, waste places.
A relative of the Smooth Pigweed and ranking with it in weedy character. Stem one to three feet in length, prostrate or ascending or sometimes erect, diffusely branching, grooved, often with reddish stripes. Leaves lance-shaped, one to five inches in length, longpointed, entire or sparingly wavy-toothed, the lower ones with a pointed lobe on each side near the base and with slender petioles; the upper ones becoming nearly linear and sessile. Leaves and stem often scurfy-mealy, especially near the top. Flowers in terminal, interrupted, panicled spikes, and also in small clusters in the upper axils, the staminate and pistillate flowers separate or both kinds together; the staminate flower without bracts, the calyx three- to five-parted with as many stamens; fertile flower a naked pistil with two-parted style, placed between two fleshy, triangular bracts, which are united at base and often tubercled on their sides. Seed compressed, vertical; often an impurity of other seeds. (Fig. 70.)
Fig. 70. - Spreading Orache (Atriplex patula). X 1/4.
Fig. 71. -Halberd-leaved Orache (Atriplex patula, var. hastata). X 1/4.
The plant is very variable; one of its forms, the Halberd-leaved Orache (A. patula, var. hastata, Gray), is more common than the type, ranging from the Great Lakes across the continent and southward to Nebraska and Utah. It is stouter, more erect, the leaves broadly halberd-shaped and often coarsely and irregularly toothed, particularly the lower ones, the petioles often as long as the blades. (Fig. 71.) These weeds are subject to the mildew so injurious to garden spinach and beets, and will infect those vegetables if growing near them. Like the Goosefoots, their seeds retain vitality for a number of years when in the soil.
Hand-pulling while in early bloom is the best remedy; cutting causes the stems to stool freely, and the new growth hastens to mature fruit, requiring attention a second time; so that prompt uprooting saves trouble in the end. In cultivated crops these plants give little trouble, for there they are usually destroyed as seedlings.