Skip to main content
Reservations recommended. Reserve tickets here.
Skip to main content

Shadscale

Scientific Name:
Atriplex confertifolia
Family:
Native Name(s):
  1. Northern Paiute: kangə (Fowler 1989); kangəpə (Fowler 1989); sunu (Fowler 1989)
Description:

Plant

Atriplex confertifolia is a large, woody shrub that can grow over 1 m in diameter. It has spiny twig tips and elliptic to obovate leaves. The fruits have two leaf-like wings. This species blooms from April to June.

Identification Tips

Atriplex confertifolia is distinguished by its two-winged fruits, whereas Atriplex canescens has four-winged fruits. 

Starch granules
Atriplex spp. starch granules are very small, ranging in size from 1-3 microns. At this size, they are difficult to detect without staining, thus there are no images included in this database. Starch granules are monomorphic, irregular spheres, sometimes faceted with clear bright crosses. When heated, granules tend to clump together, forming small aggregates.

Habitat:

Atriplex confertifolia grows on alkaline flats and slopes below 2140 m.

Distribution:

This species is distributed across the western United States.

Ethnography:

The Northern Paiute consumed several species of Atriplex seeds. They were harvested in late summer, ground and boiled to be consumed. Leaves of Atriplex conifertifolia was also used medicinally for colds and aches.

As food

Northern Paiute: "The concentration of resources at Malheur Lake fostered social gatherings.  Our consultants among the Burns Paiute confirm Whiting's (1950) statements that large numbers of people congregated there in late summer to harvest waadaseeds, to fish, and to hunt migratory fowl.  Other seeds also were harvested there, including saltbrush, giant wild rye, Indian rice grass, and blazing star." (Couture et al. 1986:154)

As medicine

Northern Paiute: “[In regards to kangə (Shadscale, Atriplex confertifolia) as it was used for medicine] Sage, like the kind that is ground up for sale, is called kangə.  For a cold the leaves are mashed up and put on the chest and held in place with a bandage.  The leaves are boiled and the liquid is drunk while the person has the leaves on his chest." (Fowler 1989:125)

Northern Paiute: “[In regards to kangə (Shadscale, Atriplex confertifolia) as it was used for medicine] "The leaves of kangəpə are gathered and boiled.  It is used for a liniment for sore muscles and aches.  It is also drunk for colds." (Fowler 1989:125)

Distribution Map: