Herbs or subshrubs, perennial, decumbent-prostrate, unarmed, mainly 0.5-8 dm and spreading to 15+ dm wide, unarmed, white scurfy when young; branches not angled. Leaves many, alternate, subsessile or short petiolate; blade 1-veined, spatulate or obovate to oblong or elliptic, mainly 5-30(-40) × 2-9(-12) mm, base attenuate, margin remotely dentate to subentire, apex obtuse. Staminate flowers in small, terminal, leaf-bracteate glomerules 1.5 mm wide. Pistillate flowers solitary or in few-flowered clusters in almost all but distalmost leaves. Fruiting bracteoles red-fleshy at maturity, sessile or short stipitate, strongly veined, rhombic, convex, 3-6.6 × 2.8-4.5 mm, united at base, margin toothed, apex obtuse to acute. Seeds dimorphic: black, 1.5-1.7 mm, or brown, 2 mm. 2n = 18.
Flowering spring-early winter. Saline waste places, along roads and sidewalks, in marshes, in various plant communities; 10-1000 m; introduced; Ariz., Calif., D.C., Nev., N.Mex., Tex., Utah, Wash.; Australia.
The red-fleshy fruiting bracteoles are diagnostic of this introduced perennial, which is multi-stemmed from an often buried woody caudex.
The Australian species Atriplex muelleri Bentham is somewhat similar. It has been has reported, but not verified, in the North American flora.