Desert Holly

Atriplex hymenelytra

Atriplex hymenelytra, Photo by Lara Hartley

Color: Grey-greenish

Common name: Desert Holly

Latin name: Atriplex hymenelytra


Height: 1.5-3 feet

Atriplex hymenelytra, Photo by Lara Hartley

Description: It is generally a rounded bush covered in distinctive reflective leaves growing from thickened, gnarly, woody bases. The fruits are enclosed in disc-shaped bracteoles — a bract that protects the early floral bud — after flowering.

Leaf: The leaves are egg-shaped to round, silver-gray, twisted, thick, irregularly and sharply toothed.

Range: se Peninsular Ranges, East of Sierra Nevada, Desert

Habitat: Slopes, washes, scrub

Elevation: < 1500 m.

Flowering time: Jan–Apr

Notes: Atriplex hymenelytra is a species of saltbush known by the common name desert holly. The toothed leaves and the small reddish fruits borne on the plant give it a passing resemblance to the unrelated European holly. This attractive shrub's leaves are often used in decorations for the home.

Atriplex hymenelytra, Photo by Lara Hartley

Fowler, Catherine S. Tule Technology: Northern Paiute Uses of Marsh Resources in Western Nevada. Smithsonian Folklife Studies, number 6.
The Theodore Payne Foundation:

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