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:

We have an online wildflower field guide that is designed to help you identify desert wildflowers by color, scientific name, region and common name. The pictures are sized to work on the iPod, iPhone, iPad and similar devices. With your iPod or phone you will easily be able to identify wildflowers while in the desert. Links for downloads are on the bottom of the Wildflower Field Guide page.

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