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Atriplex hortensis - L.                
                 
Common Name Orach, Garden orache
Family Chenopodiaceae
Synonyms
Known Hazards 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[240]. 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].
Habitats Arable land, waste and disturbed ground, shingle etc[9].
Range Europe. An occasional garden escape in Britain[17].
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Atriplex hortensis is a ANNUAL growing to 1.8 m (6ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.

USDA hardiness zone : 5-9


Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Atriplex hortensis Orach, Garden orache


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Atriplex_hortensis_cleaned_Sturm.png
Atriplex hortensis Orach, Garden orache
   
Habitats       
 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Seed.
Edible Uses:

Leaves - raw or cooked[2, 16, 27, 33]. Used like spinach[9], they have a bland flavour and are traditionally mixed with sorrel leaves in order to modify the acidity of the latter[183]. Another report says that the flavour is stronger than spinach[264]. Seed - cooked. It can be ground into a meal and used in soups etc or be mixed with flour when making bread[177, 183]. The seed is said to be a good source of vitamin A[240]. The seed is also said to contain some saponins[240]. See the notes above on toxicity. The seed is small and fiddly to harvest and use.
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antirheumatic;  Diuretic;  Emetic;  Purgative.

The leaves are diuretic, emetic and purgative[100, 269]. 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[9]. They have been suggested as a folk remedy for treating plethora and lung ailments[269]. The leaves are said to be efficacious when used externally in the treatment of gout[4]. The seeds, mixed with wine, are said to cure yellow jaundice. They also excite vomiting[269]. The fruits are purgative and emetic[269]. 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[269].
Other Uses
Biomass;  Dye.

A blue dye is obtained from the seed[74, 100]. 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[269].
Cultivation details                                         
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[33, 37, 200, 269]. Plants require a position in full sun and are tolerant of saline and very alkaline soils[200]. They thrive in any temperate climate, and are drought resistant[269]. 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[269]. Orach was formerly cultivated for its edible leaves, there are some named varieties[183]. It can be grown as a warm weather substitute for spinach[183]. 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[238] 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[269]. Leaves can be harvested 40 - 60 days after sowing the seed[269]. This species is a poor companion plant for potatoes, inhibiting their growth when growing close to them[20].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - sow March to August in situ, only just covering the seed[134]. Germination is usually good and rapid[K].
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
L.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
200
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[9]Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants in Europe. a drawing of each plant, quite a bit of interesting information.
[16]Simons. New Vegetable Growers Handbook.
A good guide to growing vegetables in temperate areas, not entirely organic.
[20]Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Fairly good.
[27]Vilmorin. A. The Vegetable Garden.
A reprint of a nineteenth century classic, giving details of vegetable varieties. Not really that informative though.
[33]Organ. J. Rare Vegetables for Garden and Table.
Unusual vegetables that can be grown outdoors in Britain. A good guide.
[37]Thompson. B. The Gardener's Assistant.
Excellent general but extensive guide to gardening practices in the 19th century. A very good section on fruits and vegetables with many little known species.
[74]Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR.
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers.
[100]Polunin. O. Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide.
An excellent and well illustrated pocket guide for those with very large pockets. Also gives some details on plant uses.
[134]Rice. G. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 2.
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation. An interesting article on Ensete ventricosum.
[177]Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption.
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
[240]Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
[264]Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Vegetables
Excellent and easily read book with good information and an excellent collection of photos of vegetables from around the world, including many unusual species.
[269]Duke. J. Handbook of Energy Crops
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of plants.

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
Dallas Gardinier Tue Apr 22 20:11:12 2003
I want to know if orach has high amounts of oxalic acid. And data on it's nutrient content.
Elizabeth H.
Jan Karpisek Fri Sep 12 2008

Photo of the red orach by Jan Karpisek for pfaf.org

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Subject : Atriplex hortensis  
             

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