Spear-Leaved Orache, Atriplex prostrata
The Spear-Leaved Orache, is a mealy, upright, annual plant that is member of a broad family of edible plants, often called Saltbushes, due to their salty tang and coastal habit. They are closely related to Fat Hen or Lamb's Quarters and look a little similar. The Spear-Leaved Orache can often be found in-land (as was this one), growing on wasteland or roadsides, particularly if the road surface is gritted with salt over the winter, and produces small pink flower spikes between July - September. The young goosefoot-shaped leaves and shoots can be added to salads, with older ones cooked and used as spinach substitute. As they naturally retain salt, they don't often need to be seasoned whilst cooking. Arthur does eat this, but usually mixed-in and disguised with other goodies in sauces for pasta or rice - it is spinach after all!
Spear-Leaved Orache Checklist
🌊 Waterways, particularly near beaches and sand dunes.
🐑 Grassland, including paddocks, fields and meadows.
🏡 Urban Green Spaces, including scrubland, parks and gardens.
🌸🌞🍂 Apr – Oct
☘️ Very distinct, spear or goosefoot shaped leaves with toothed edges. The leaves are mealy and succulent.
🌷 Small, drab, green-red flowers emerge from the stem tips during the summer months.
🌱 Stems are branched, with a green-red colouration.
Fruit / Seeds
🍏 After flowering small seed pods form on the stems.
Aroma / Taste
👃 Indistinct Aroma
👅 The young leaves taste very much like spinach with nutty, salty undertones.
🟩 ID Difficulty - Beginner
👀 The distinctive, mealy, goosefoot-shaped leaves are a key identifier of this plant.
✅ There are a number of other Orache species, and these may have slightly different-shaped leaves. All are edible.
🥬 Green - Can be cooked as a spinache substitute.
🥗 Salad - Young leaves can be eaten raw and added to salads.