Herbs, annual. Stems erect and ascending, sparsely branched or simple, obtusely angled, 1.5-10(-15) dm, stout, scurfy when young. Leaves sessile or short petiolate; blade white abaxially, green adaxially, linear to lanceolate, elliptic, or oblong, 15-75 × (1-)3-25 mm, thin, base cuneate to long attenuate, margin coarsely sinuate-dentate or entire, apex rounded to acute, mucronate, densely scurfy and pale abaxially, green and glabrous adaxially. Staminate flowers in glomerules, forming slender, usually dense, naked terminal narrowly paniculate spikes, panicles 6-30 cm; glomerules beadlike, small, 2-3 mm thick; calyx 5-cleft. Pistillate flowers in few-flowered axillary clusters. Fruiting bracteoles short stipitate, cuneate-orbiculate or broadly cuneate, compressed, 2-2.5 mm, united basally, apex rounded, acutely 5-dentate, faces 3-veined, usually unappendaged, rarely obscurely tuberculate. Seeds pale brown, 1 mm.
Flowering summer-fall. In alkaline or saline substrates, often along roadsides, in old fields and vacant lots; 400-1200 m; Ariz., N.Mex., Tex.; Mexico.
The name Obione elegans var. radiata was discussed by H. M. Hall and F. E. Clements (1923), who did not see the Thurber type material, but did see another cited specimen, Wright 571, from west Texas, which is referable to Atriplex elegans. The concept of A. radiata, according to Coulter, includes A. wrightii as a synonym; the description supplied by him is of that entity.
Wiggins 1964, FNA 2004
Duration: Annual Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Bushy annual with erect to ascending stems, sparsely branched 1.5-10 dm, scurfy when young. Leaves: Sessile or short petiolate, blade white abaxially, green adaxially, linear to lanceolate, elliptic, or oblong, 2.5-6 cm, irregularly toothed margins. Flowers: Staminate flowers in glomerules, forming dense, naked terminal paniculate spikes, panicles 6-30 cm, with small 2-3 mm thick, beadlike glomerules. Pistillate flowers in axillary clusters. Fruits: Bracteoles, short stipitate, compressed 2-2.5 mm, basally united. Ecology: Found on alkaline or saline soils, often along roadsides and in other disturbed ground from 1,000-4,000 ft (305-1219 m); flowers in summer. Distribution: AZ, s NM, s TX; south to n MEX. Notes: Distinguished by being a bushy annual with toothed leaves with very glaucous undersides; staminate flowers in naked, terminal spikes; and the coarsely dentate pistillate bracts. Ethnobotany: Unknown, plants of the genus have many uses. Etymology: Atriplex is the Latin name for the plant, while wrightii is named for Charles Wright (1811-1885), an American botanical collector. Synonyms: None Editor: SBuckley 2010, FSCoburn 2015