Atriplex (orach)

red orache

An interesting ornamental annual, usually grown for its appealing edible foliage. This ancient leafy vegetable was commonly eaten in Europe before the introduction of spinach during the 11th century. Attractive red foliage varieties are ideal for both the mixed border and the vegetable plot.

Family: Amaranthaceae (amaranth family)
Botanical Name: Atriplex hortensis
Common Names: Orach, orache, arrach, mountain spinach, French spinach.

Foliage: Deciduous, triangular shaped green or red leaves.

Flowers: Dense racemes of tiny insignificant flowers (usually of similar colour to the leaves).

Flowering Period: Mid-summer to early autumn.

Soil: Well-drained, fertile soil (sand or loam). Any pH. Avoid waterlogged conditions.

Conditions: Best in full sun. Grow in a west or south facing aspect.

Habit: Columnar/Upright.

Type: Hardy Annual.

Origin: Europe

Hardiness: Frost Tender.

Planting and Growing Atriplex

Quick and easy to grow from seed. Sow in any fertile well-drained garden soil, in an open sunny site. Grows rapidly to a height of 3 or 4ft (90cm-120cm)

Suitable for open exposed sites and coastal gardens.

Taking Care of Atriplex

Water copiously during dry weather.


None necessary. Cut back after flowering.

Pests and Diseases

Generally pest and disease free.

Propagating Atriplex

Sow directly in a prepared seed bed from late spring onwards. Thin seedlings to 16in (40cm) distance. Can be sown in succession from spring to early summer.

Popular Varieties of Atriplex

Atriplex hortensis 'Cupreata' has bright beetroot red foliage.

Atriplex hortensis 'rubra' (purple orache) is an erect annual with ovate, deep red-purple leaves. Dense racemes of tiny flowers. Height from 3 to 4ft (90cm-120cm) or more. Available from King Seeds.

Atriplex hortensis 'Scarlet Emperor' a very attractive two-toned form with dark scarlet leaves. Available from Chiltern Seeds.