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Toxic parts

No member of this genus contains any toxins, all have more or less edible leaves. However, if grown with artificial fertilizers, they may concentrate harmful amounts of nitrates in their leaves. The seed contains saponins[1]. Although poisonous, saponins are poorly absorbed by the human body and so most pass through without harm. Saponins are quite bitter and can be found in many common foods such as some beans. They can be removed by carefully leaching the seed or flour in running water. Thorough cooking, and perhaps changing the cooking water once, will also normally remove most of them. However, it is not advisable to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K].

Edible uses


Leaves - raw or cooked[2][3][4][5]. Used like spinach[6], they have a bland flavour and are traditionally mixed with sorrel leaves in order to modify the acidity of the latter[7]. Another report says that the flavour is stronger than spinach[8]. Seed - cooked. It can be ground into a meal and used in soups etc or be mixed with flour when making bread[9][7]. The seed is said to be a good source of vitamin A[1]. The seed is also said to contain some saponins[1]. See the notes above on toxicity. The seed is small and fiddly to harvest and use.


Material uses

A blue dye is obtained from the seed[10][11]. The plant is a potential source of biomass. Yields of 14 tonnes per hectare have been achieved in the vicinity of Landskrona and Lund, Sweden. Higher yields might be expected farther south. If the leaf-protein were extracted, this should leave more than 13 tonnes biomass as by-product, for potential conversion to liquid or gaseous fuels[12].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The leaves are diuretic, emetic and purgative[11][12]. They are also said to be a stimulant to the metabolism and an infusion is used as a spring tonic and a remedy for tiredness and nervous exhaustion[6]. They have been suggested as a folk remedy for treating plethora and lung ailments[12]. The leaves are said to be efficacious when used externally in the treatment of gout[13].

The seeds, mixed with wine, are said to cure yellow jaundice. They also excite vomiting[12]. The fruits are purgative and emetic[12].

Liniments and emollients prepared from the whole plant, like the juice of the plant, are said to be folk remedies for indurations and tumours, especially of the throat[12].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - sow March to August in situ, only just covering the seed[14]. Germination is usually good and rapid[K].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Atriplex hortensis. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Orach is a very easily grown plant, doing equally well in a wide variety of well-drained soils, though rich, moisture-retentive soils give the quick growth that is necessary for the production of tender leaves[5][15][16][12]. Plants require a position in full sun and are tolerant of saline and very alkaline soils[16]. They thrive in any temperate climate, and are drought resistant[12]. Orach is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation of 30 to 140cm, an average annual temperature in the range of 6 to 24°C, and a pH of 5.0 to 8.2[12].

Orach was formerly cultivated for its edible leaves, there are some named varieties[7]. It can be grown as a warm weather substitute for spinach[7]. Some forms of this species have bronze or deep red leaves and are occasionally grown as ornamental plants, their leaves taste the same as the green-leafed forms[K]. Plants are fast-growing[17] and usually self-sow quite freely if the surrounding soil is disturbed by hoeing etc[K]. They tolerate hot weather well, but soon go to seed so successive sowings at 4 weekly intervals are required during the growing season if a continuous supply of leaves is required[12]. Leaves can be harvested 40 - 60 days after sowing the seed[12].

This species is a poor companion plant for potatoes, inhibiting their growth when growing close to them[18].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Atriplex hortensis. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Atriplex hortensis.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Atriplex hortensis
Imported References
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Salinity
  • Strong wind
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
None listed.
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
Flower Colour
Flower Type


  1. ? Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
  2. ? 2.02.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
  3. ? 3.03.1 Simons. New Vegetable Growers Handbook. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-050-0 (1977-00-00)
  4. ? 4.04.1 Vilmorin. A. The Vegetable Garden. Ten Speed Press ISBN 0-89815-041-8 ()
  5. ? Organ. J. Rare Vegetables for Garden and Table. Faber (1960-00-00)
  6. ? Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
  7. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  8. ? 8.08.1 Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Vegetables Macmillan Reference Books, London. ISBN 0 333 62640 0 (1995-00-00)
  9. ? 9.09.1 Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3874292169 (1984-00-00)
  10. ? 10.010.1 Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR. Israel Program for Scientific Translation (1968-00-00)
  11. ? Polunin. O. Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide. Oxford University Press ISBN 0192176218 (1969-00-00)
  12. ? 12.0012.0112.0212.0312.0412.0512.0612.0712.0812.0912.1012.1112.12 Duke. J. Handbook of Energy Crops - (1983-00-00)
  13. ? 13.013.1 Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
  14. ? Rice. G. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 2. Thompson and Morgan. (1988-00-00)
  15. ? Thompson. B. The Gardener's Assistant. Blackie and Son. (1878-00-00)
  16. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  17. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
  18. ? Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening. Garden Way, Vermont, USA. ISBN 0-88266-064-0 (1978-00-00)

Cite error: <ref> tag with name "PFAFimport-17" defined in <references> is not used in prior text.

Facts about "Atriplex hortensis"RDF feed
Article is incompleteYes +
Article requires citationsNo +
Article requires cleanupYes +
Belongs to familyChenopodiaceae +
Belongs to genusAtriplex +
Has binomial nameAtriplex hortensis +
Has common nameOrach +
Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
Has edible partLeaves + and Seed +
Has edible useUnknown use +
Has environmental toleranceHigh wind + and Salinity +
Has fertility typeWind +
Has flowers of typeMonoecious +
Has growth rateVigorous +
Has hardiness zone6 +
Has lifecycle typeAnnual +
Has material partUnknown part +
Has material useBiomass + and Dye +
Has mature height1.8 +
Has mature width0.3 +
Has medicinal partUnknown part +
Has medicinal useAntirheumatic +, Diuretic +, Emetic + and Purgative +
Has salinity toleranceTolerant +
Has search nameatriplex hortensis + and orach +
Has shade toleranceNo shade +
Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral +, Alkaline + and Very alkaline +
Has soil texture preferenceSandy + and Loamy +
Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
Has sun preferenceFull sun +
Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
Has taxonomy nameAtriplex hortensis +
Has water requirementsmoderate +
Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
PFAF edible use notes migratedNo +
PFAF material use notes migratedNo +
PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
PFAF toxicity notes migratedNo +
Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
Tolerates windYes +
Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
Has subobjectThis property is a special property in this wiki.Atriplex hortensis +, Atriplex hortensis +, Atriplex hortensis +, Atriplex hortensis +, Atriplex hortensis +, Atriplex hortensis +, Atriplex hortensis + and Atriplex hortensis +