Freitag, 24. Juni 2011

Plant of the Day (June 24th, 2011) - Atriplex prostrata C. D. Bouche ex. DC

Today's “Plant of the Day” is Atriplex prostrata C. D. Bouche ex. DC. or “Spear-leaved orache” in English and “Spieß-Melde in German. It belongs to the Amaranthaceae family. In past, the plant belongs to the Chenopodiacae, but recent molecular studies have shown, that this family is closely related to the Amaranthaceae, so today, the Chenopodiaceae are a sub-family of the Armanthaceae and called Chenopodioideae (in some literature, the Chenopodiaceae are still a own family).
A. prostrata is a small to medium high herb, which can reach heights between 20 and 60 centimetres. The leaves are long stalked and until 10 centimetres long. The leaf-blade is spear-shaped with a pointed end and backward curved tips. This special morphology also gave the species the name “Spear Orache”. Sometimes, the shoot axis and the leaf-stalks are covered by a mealy fluff or red overflowed.

A. prostrata - habitus

Flowers and Inflorescences are very inconspicuous and reduced, because this plant uses the wind for spreading (Anemochorie). A. prostrata is monoicous, that means, one individual has only female or male flowers. Male flowers have a small perigon (perigons also exists at the Dicotyledons); female flowers haven't any kind of a perianth but conspicuous bracts, which are 1 centimetre long and rhomboidal shaped. After pollination, this bracts are used by the ripe fruit to fly with the wind.

A. prostrata - habitus

A. prostrata is native to Europe and Western Asia. Like the most species from the genus Atriplex, this species is very tolerant toward salt, so it can be found at shorelines and even into the drift line. In the inland, A. protrata grows for example on fresh ruderal wastelands and also lake sides. It is also an indicator for the density of the soil. So places with A. prostrata are very salty or have a very dense soil.

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