Atriplex species are the oraches most often seen on saltmarshes or these days along the sides of main roads where road salting has had an effect. They are considered difficult to identify and up til attending this meeting I would have put most of them down as “Atriplex sp”. I still might do that after learning more about them, but for different reasons!
John Akeroyd, proud author of the BSBI Docks and Knotweeds handbook, has been interested in Atriplex for some time and kindly agreed to lead a weekend meeting to study this genus. We visited a variety of strandline, saltmarsh and coastal swamp sites to examine as many different kinds of Atriplex as we could find.
It quickly became apparent to me that writing “Atriplex sp” is actually a pretty clever strategy, because these plants hybridise. A lot. In fact, most of the specimens we looked at could be considered hybrid! As always in botany, much can be learned once you know what to look at, and now that I have been shown what bracteoles are and what it means when these are fused etc etc, I am equipped to approach Atriplex species with a critical eye and feel that I could have a reasonable stab at identifying these plants when I see them again.
I would recommend these meetings to all botanists interested in learning more about so-called “difficult” groups of plants. If nothing else, you’ll meet some lovely people, get out to nice places and have a good time 🙂
Keep an eye on the BSBI’s meetings page for news of forthcoming meetings.