Old Man Saltbush in Plant of the Week

November 6th, 2021

PLANT OF THE WEEK Number 2

Scientific Name: Atriplex nummularia

Common Name:Old Man Saltbush
Family: Chenopodiaceae
Native Habitat: found in semi-arid and arid areas of Australia.
Description:-grey-green leaves on a somewhat woody shrub. Dioecious-separate male and female plants.
Height-Width: 3 x 2-5 m
Flowering: small white flowers occur throughout most of the year.
Fruiting:rounded fruits.
Position: Full sun and tolerant of some shade. 
Attributes: Dry tolerant once established due to the extensive deep root system that extends to 5m deep and 10m across.
  • The leaves impart a salty flavour if your dry and crumble them and sprinkle on food.

Possibly, listeners would be familiar with the term ‘old man saltbush’ or even have seen this plant growing somewhere.

But I daresay, you would not have heards that parts of this plant are considered bush tucker.
There are many bush tucker plants that are not that well known and this is another one of them.

  • The Department of Primary Industries NSW recommends the following for farmland. 

"Shrubs are grown in hedgerows as block or alley plantings across the farm to provide high-protein green feed during periods of feed shortage."

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Old Man Saltbush: Photo courtesy DPI NSW

"Shrubs are grown in hedgerows as block or alley plantings across the farm to provide high-protein green feed during periods of feed shortage.Not recommended for areas with less than 300 mm average annual rainfall, or more than 600 mm average annual rainfall." 

In the home garden, if you’re first planting out old man saltbush, don’t expect it to survive without any water at the start. After the first warm season, then it’s good to go on just what falls out of the sky in rainfall.

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast with Adrian O' Malley horticulturist and native plant expert. 

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