Herb: Shadscale

Latin name: Atriplex confertifolia

Synonyms: Atriplex jonesii, Obione confertifolia

Family: Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family)

Medicinal use of Shadscale:

The plant has been burnt and the smoke inhaled as a treatment for epilepsy. The boiled leaves have been used as a liniment for sore muscles and aches. A poultice of the mashed leaves have been applied to the chest and a decoction of the leaves drunk to treat colds.

Description of the plant:


180 cm
(6 feet)


Habitat of the herb:

Alkaline slopes and flats below 2000 metres. in California.

Edible parts of Shadscale:

Leaves - cooked and used as greens. The water in which the leaves is cooked is used in making corn pudding. Seed - used in piäole or ground into a meal and used as a thickener in making bread or mixed with flour in making bread.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow April/May in a cold frame in a compost of peat and sand. Germinates in 1 - 3 weeks at 13°C. Pot up the seedlings when still small into individual pots, grow on in a greenhouse for the first winter and plant out in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Very easy. Pot up as soon as they start to root (about 3 weeks) and plant out in their permanent positions late in the following spring. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth, November/December in a frame. Very easy. Pot up in early spring and plant out in their permanent position in early summer.

Cultivation of Shadscale:

Alkaline slopes and flats below 2000 metres. in California.

Known hazards of Atriplex confertifolia:

No member of this genus contains any toxins, all have more or less edible leaves. However, if grown with artificial fertilizers, they may concentrate harmful amounts of nitrates in their leaves.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.