San Diego Management & Monitoring Program

Coulter's saltbush
Atriplex coulteri

Kingdom Phylum Subphylum Class Order Suborder Family

Current distribution rangewide

From San Luis Obispo to Baja California, Mexico, including 6 of the 8 Channel Islands (not found on Santa Barbara or San Nicholas islands) [1].

Known Populations in San Diego County

Historically, quite rare in San Diego [2].

List status

None [1].

Habitat affinities

Elevation 3-460 m (10-1509 ft) [1]. Associated with clay or alkaline soils supporting grasslands, coastal sage scrub, bluff scrubs, or coastal dune vegetation [1].

Taxonomy and genetics

Some herbarium specimens need to be differentiated from Atriplex pacifica, and further taxonomic work is needed to clearly delineate the two species [2]. Coulter’s saltbush has a more pronounced and serrated fruiting bract that Pacific saltbush [2].

Life history demography

Perennial herb in the Chenopodiaceae family [1].

Seasonal phenology

Blooming period March to October [1].


Threatened by development in the thin microhabitat at the edge of sea bluffs where species of saltbush thrive [2]. Possibly threatened by feral herbivores [1].

Special considerations:

Species may be nearing extirpation from mainland California [2]. All mainland populations should be protected with adequate buffers.

Coulter's saltbush sources