Atriplex praecox

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaChenopodiaceaeAtriplexAtriplex praecox


A small annual occurring on sand and shingle beaches around the margins of sea-lochs and other sheltered inlets and bays. It grows in the lowest part of sparsely vegetated strandlines below, for example, the zone normally occupied by Cakile maritima and other Atriplex species. Lowland.



World Distribution

European Boreal-montane element; also in Greenland.

Broad Habitats

Supralittoral sediment (strandlines, shingle, coastal dunes)

Light (Ellenberg): 9

Moisture (Ellenberg): 5

Reaction (Ellenberg): 7

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 6

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 3

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.6

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 12.8

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1503

Height (cm): 10

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Therophyte (annual land plant)



Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 62

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Atriplex praecox Hülph

Early Orache

Status: scarce

This is a tiny annual plant, rarely more than 10 cm tall, that occurs in the lowest part of open strand communities. Its most characteristic habitat is sand and shingle beaches on the sheltered shores of Scottish sea-lochs.

The plant is capable of self-pollination but also exhibits protogyny, which promotes outcrossing (Taschereau 1985). The flowers, to a great extent wind-pollinated, are produced in June and July, earlier than those of other coastal species of Atriplex.

A. praecox was first reported in Britain only in 1975 (Taschereau 1977) and is almost certainly under­-recorded.

This species occurs on the coasts of most of north­eastern Europe from Iceland to arctic Russia, extending southwards to Britain and southern Sweden (Jalas & Suominen 1980); it also occurs in North America.

Scandinavian botanists usually treat it as subsp. praecox (Hülph.) Turesson of A. longipes.


J. R. Akeroyd

Atlas text references

Jalas & Suominen (1980)
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.
Taschereau (1977