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Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains

Chenopodiaceae, the Goosefoot Family


Weedy, prostrate to erect annuals (in those included here), commonly growing in alkaline or saline soil. Stems stout (succulent and jointed in Salicornia), usually freely branched. Leaves simple, alternate or only the lower ones opposite (all opposite and scalelike in Salicornia), often rather leathery or succulent, sometimes farinose, especially on the lower surface. Flowers minute and usually abundant, perfect or imperfect, green or reddish-tinged, crowded in clusters or in terminal and/or axillary inflorescences, or (in Salicornia) embedded in terminal fleshy spikes; perianth consisting of a calyx only (perianth lacking in female flowers of Atriplex), usually (3-4)5-lobed, unlobed in Salicornia; stamens (1)2-5; pistil 2-3(5)-carpellary, styles usually 2-3(5), ovary superior, 1-celled. Fruit a utricle, the seed oriented horizontally or vertically to the calyx.

Some of the common dryland weeds of this family will invade dry wetland basins during periods of drought. Notable among these are kochia, Kochia scoparia (L.) Schrad. and Russian thistle, both Salsola iberica Sennen & Pau and S. collina Pall. These plants are especially opportunistic around brackish or saline wetlands where high salt concentrations discourage other plants from pioneering exposed substrates. Since kochia and Russian thistle are well known as upland weeds and because they are uncharacteristic of wetlands except during periods of drought, they are excluded here.

Lead Characteristic Go To
1 Leaves opposite, scalelike; stems succulent, jointed at the nodes. Genus Salicornia
1 Leaves alternate or mostly so; stems not especially succulent and not jointed. Lead 2
2 Leaves sessile, linear, semiterete. Genus Suaeda
2 Leaves mostly petiolate, the blades lanceolate to ovate-deltate or ovate-oblong, entire to sinuate-dentate, often hastate. Lead 3
3 Flowers imperfect, the male and female flowers mixed in glomerules borne in axillary and terminal spikes, the spikes ebracteate or only sparsely bracteate in the lower portion; pistillate flowers lacking a perianth, the fruit enclosed by a pair of sepaloid bracteoles. Genus Atriplexa
3 Flowers perfect, in glomerules borne in axillary and terminal spikes which are bracteate throughout, the bracts reducing in size upward; fruit surrounded by the persistent perianth. Genus Chenopodium


12. Chenopodiaceae, the Goosefoot Family
1. Atriplex L.
1. Atriplex subspicata (Nutt.) Rydb. -- Spearscale
2. Chenopodium L. -- Goosefoot
1. Chenopodium glaucum L. -- Oak-leaved goosefoot
2. Chenopodium rubrum L. -- Red goosefoot
3. Salicornia L. -- Glasswort, saltwort
1. Salicornia rubra A. Nels.
4. Suaeda Forsk. -- Sea blite
1. Suaeda depressa (Pursh) S. Wats.


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