Open the Advanced Search

Babington's Orache

Atriplex glabriuscula

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Amaranthaceae (Amaranth)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
70 centimetres tall
Beaches, saltmarshes, sand dunes, seaside.

Green, 5 petals
A slender, open, leafy, green spike. 5 stamens.
The fruit is a seed (achene) which is enclosed by two triangular, fused bracteoles.
A prostrate growing annual plant with triangular, opposite leaves. The upper leaves are narrower than the lower leaves. It's angular stems are usually red and in the autumn the entire plant often turns red. The leaves and branches of Babington's Orache are more mealy than the similar-looking Spear-leaved Orache.
Other Names:
Frankton's Saltbush, Glabrous Orache, Maritime Saltbush, Northeastern Saltbush, Orache, Scotland Orache, Seaside Orache, Smooth Orache, Smooth Saltbush.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Atriplex glabriuscula, commonly known as smooth orache or smooth saltbush, is a species of saltbush from the Amaranthaceae family. It is a perennial plant that typically grows to be around 30-70 cm tall. It has a bushy habit, and the leaves are smooth or hairless, ovate or triangular, 2-8 cm long and 1-5 cm wide, and are green or gray-green in color. The flowers are small, inconspicuous and greenish-white and are produced in dense spikes or panicles. This plant is commonly found in saline soils, salt marshes, and alkali flats, it is tolerant to salt and drought. It is also used as a forage plant for livestock, and it is considered as a weed in some parts of the world. It is also used as a soil conservation and reclamation plant in saline soils. Due to its tolerance to salt it can be grown on saline soils where other plants wouldn't survive.


Babington's Orache, also known as Atriplex glabriuscula, is a plant species that belongs to the family Amaranthaceae. This plant is native to Europe and is commonly found in coastal areas, salt marshes, and disturbed soils. Babington's Orache is an annual herbaceous plant that grows up to 70cm in height, and it has grey-green leaves that are oval-shaped and grow alternately along the stem.

Babington's Orache is a highly adaptable plant, and it can grow in a wide range of soil types, from sandy to heavy clay soils. It prefers full sun and is highly tolerant of salt, which makes it an ideal plant for coastal gardens or for areas with high soil salinity.

One of the most unique features of Babington's Orache is its edible nature. The leaves and stems of the plant are rich in vitamins and minerals, and they can be eaten raw or cooked. In fact, Babington's Orache has been used as a food source for centuries, and it was once a popular vegetable in ancient Rome.

Babington's Orache is also a valuable plant for wildlife. The plant provides an important food source for many species of insects and birds, and it also plays a crucial role in soil conservation. The plant has a deep root system that helps to prevent soil erosion, and its ability to tolerate salt makes it a useful species for stabilizing coastal soils.

In addition to its practical uses, Babington's Orache also has cultural significance. The plant is named after the British botanist, Charles Cardale Babington, who was one of the first scientists to study and document the plant's properties. Babington's Orache has also been used in traditional medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Babington's Orache has a wide range of uses beyond its edible and ecological properties. It has also been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments. The plant has anti-inflammatory properties and has been used to soothe skin irritations and reduce swelling. It has also been used to treat digestive issues and respiratory problems.

Babington's Orache has been used in landscaping and gardening as well. Its unique silver-grey foliage and upright growth habit make it an attractive addition to ornamental gardens. The plant can also be used as a border plant, or as a filler plant in rock gardens.

Growing Babington's Orache is relatively easy, and the plant does not require a lot of maintenance. It can be grown from seeds, and the seeds can be sown directly in the garden in early spring. The plant prefers well-drained soil and full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade.

In addition to its various uses, Babington's Orache has some interesting adaptations that have allowed it to thrive in challenging environments. For example, the plant's grey-green leaves have a waxy coating that helps to reduce water loss, making it more drought-resistant. The plant also has a deep root system that allows it to access water and nutrients from deep within the soil, which helps it to survive in nutrient-poor soils.

Babington's Orache is also a pioneer species, meaning that it is one of the first plants to colonize disturbed or damaged ecosystems. The plant's ability to quickly establish itself in these environments helps to prevent soil erosion and stabilize the ecosystem, allowing other plant and animal species to eventually establish themselves.

Babington's Orache has been the subject of scientific study due to its ability to accumulate high levels of heavy metals such as zinc and cadmium in its tissues. This ability makes the plant useful for phytoremediation, a process in which plants are used to remove contaminants from soil or water.

Another interesting fact about Babington's Orache is its ability to tolerate high levels of salt in soil and water. This trait is known as halophytism and is rare in many plant species. Babington's Orache is able to tolerate high levels of salt due to its unique physiological and anatomical adaptations. Its leaves and stems are able to excrete salt from specialized glands, while its roots are able to selectively take up essential nutrients while excluding salt.

Babington's Orache is also a highly variable species, with a wide range of morphological and genetic variation across its distribution range. This variability has led to the recognition of several subspecies and varieties within the species, each with its own unique characteristics and adaptations.

In some regions, Babington's Orache is considered an invasive species, as it can quickly colonize disturbed ecosystems and outcompete native vegetation. However, in other regions, it is valued as a useful and adaptable plant that can provide ecological and economic benefits.

Overall, Babington's Orache is a fascinating and versatile plant with a long history of use and cultural significance. Its adaptations to challenging environments, as well as its ecological, economic, and scientific value, make it a plant worth exploring and appreciating.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map