Atriplex hortensis var. rubra

Atriplex hortensis var. rubra

This is an interesting summer annual from Asia, known as red orach or mountain spinach. It belongs to the Chenopodiaceae family of plants, which includes spinach and beetroot. In moist, fertile soil in a sunny spot, it may grow 1.2-2 m tall; it will be shorter in less favourable conditions.

Atriplex hortensis var. rubra seedpods

Its sumptuous purplish-red, arrow-shaped foliage is its main attraction, the flowers being insignificant. However, when its long-lasting purple seedpods develop, these are very decorative. The plant will come up again each year from fallen seeds from these pods. The leaves are as effective in combination with the blue, pink or lavender flowers of a cool-coloured garden as they are with hot oranges, yellows or reds. When you tire of it, you can eat the plant's leaves in a salad!