FLORA OF ICELAND elements: Atriplex glabriuscula, Babington's Orache

Atriplex glabriuscula; the Babington's orache is a coastal plant growing near the coastal lines. Like many other members of the goosefoot family it is well adapted to brackish/alkaline environmental conditions. It is a creeping herb with green or reddish inflorescens. The Babington's orache grows in favourable sea-side conditions around Iceland. It often grows there where the highest tides have deposited sea-weed packages in the past.

The taxonomy of orache's is very complicated. Furthermore specialists disagree on the species definition. In the past it was believed there were more or less two common species on Iceland being Atriplex glabriuscula (Babington's Orache) and Atriplex longipes (Long-stalked Orache). Recently though Icelandic specialists came to the conclusion that the only common species is A. glabriuscula. One has to bear in mind that minute differences in the shape of the tiny fruits are regarded as differentiating traits. Other rare species have been found too in the past century but to my knowledge these never formed stable populations. Please correct me if I am wrong.
Coming back to Atriplex glabriuscula (Babington's Orache) and Atriplex longipes (Long-stalked Orache): these can also be identified by the shape of the basal leaves: these are triangular in the Long-stalked Orache and more tapering to the stalk in the Babington's Orache. Again though, Icelandic specialists do not regard the Long-stalked anymore as a common species.
They are members of the Chenopodiaceae family - the Goosefoot family. The Icelandic name of this species is Hrílublaðka.

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A brief introduction to Iceland plants
Text & Photographs by Dick Vuijk - unless stated otherwise


Macro of a top part of as stem with inflorescence
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Macro of a top part of as stem with inflorescence

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