Nature conservation

Threatened species

A saltbush - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Atriplex sturtii
Conservation status in NSW: Endangered
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Profile last updated: 01 Nov 2022


This spreading saltbush is an annual or short-lived perennial to 15cm high with slender branches, thin, scaly leaves and separate male and female flowers. Male flowers are in distal axils (area between leaf and stem) and female flowers are numerous in scattered clusters. Diamond-shaped leaves are up to 15 mm long. Fruiting bracteoles (leaf-like structures around fruit) are cylindrical, 2-4mm long with no appendages. Fruiting bracteoles become narrowly cylindrical when mature, with two distinct portions: a firm, spongy and straw-coloured stalk, and an upper flattened tube, green to straw-coloured, thin-walled and striped. Atriplex sturtii closely resembles another species; Atriplex leptocarpa and leaf shape and the morphology of the fruiting bracteoles are important when distinguishing the two. In the former the basal portion of the fruiting bracteole is eventually spongy and the tube thin-walled, while in Atriplex leptocarpa the basal portion is hard and the tube woody.


Grows around the “Corner Country” in the far north-western plains of NSW. The species was originally known only from the area where NSW, Queensland and South Australia adjoin, however specimens have now been recorded from within NSW, South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. Localities in NSW include Tibooburra, Yantara and Cobham Lakes south-east of Milparinka and along the eastern side of Caryapundy Swamp on the Bulloo River Overflow near the Qld border. Interstate localities are Coongie Lake, Coopers Creek and Murta Well in South Australia, the Mulligan Range and Eyre’s Creek in Queensland, and Rainbow Valley in the Northern Territory.

Habitat and ecology

  • Associated species include Eragrostis australasica, Muehlenbeckia species and Atriplex lobativalvis in a recently wet claypan. With Tecticornis verrucosa, Eragrostis dielsii and Frankenia species on claypans and margins at Rainbow Valley in the Northern Territory. Atriplex sturtii has also been recorded growing on a wombat hole, on an isolated gilgai in flat, open chenopod gibber plain, and with taller shrubs including Acacia oswaldii.
  • Recorded in populations as occasional and not common to very abundant.
  • Flowers appear from December to April.
  • Occupies a range of habitats, from level ground amongst granite tors, to the margins of recently wet claypans, but is said to be found principally in white sand. The species may be seasonally dependent on rainfall events in these dry habitat areas.
  • May be moderately disturbance tolerant as very large populations have been recorded in roadside table-drains on deep red-brown sands after above-average rainfall in spring / early summer. These table-drains are graded during road repairs.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Channel CountryBulloo Known None
Channel CountryCentral Depression Known None
Channel CountryCore Ranges Known None
Other StateSA Known None