Sarcobatus vermiculatus var. vermiculatus
Family: Chenopodiaceae – Goosefoot Family
Woody, thorny shrubs; (10 to 20 dm) tall or more
Leaves: usually alternate; small, simple; grey or bluish; linear; 0.12” to 1.8” (0.3 to 4.5 cm) long, 0.04” to 0.12” (1 to 3 mm) wide
Flowers: male (staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers generally found on the same plant (monoecious), occasionally on separate plants (dioecious); imperfect; small and inconspicuous, greenish;
male (staminate) flowers; 0 petals; 0 sepals; 2 or 3 stamens; catkinlike 0.4” to 1.6” (1 to 4 cm) long;
female (pistillate) flowers: 0 petals; has bracts; 1 pistil; 1 to 3 stigmas; the pistil is surrounded by a cuplike perianth; perianth about 0.04” (1 mm) long
Pollinators: wind; not self-fertile
Fruits: utricles – small 1 seeded fruit with a thin wall; large number of seeds that persist
Blooms in Arches National Park: May, June, July, August, September
Habitat in Arches National Park: desert shrub communities; characteristically grows on alkaline and halophytic (salty) soils
Location seen: Wolfe Ranch, Delicate Arch Viewpoint
Other: The genus name, “Sarcobatus”, is from the Greek “sarco” meaning “flesh” and “batos” meaning “bramble” referring to the succulent leaves and spiny branches. The species name, “vermiculatus” means “worm-like”.
This plant is an important browse species, even though sodium or potassium salts often accumulate in or on the leaves. This plant contains soluble oxalates which are poisonous to livestock when the plant is eaten in large quantities.
Plants in this family are generally weedy, but beets and spinach are members of this family. The family is called the goosefoot family because the leaf shape may look like a goose's foot.
Last updated: February 4, 2023