Basic Information
Common Name: Coulter's Saltbush
Scientific Name: Atriplex coulteri
Species Code: ATRCOU
Management Category: VF (species with limited distribution in the MSPA or needing specific vegetation characteristics requiring management)
Occurrence Map
Table of Occurrences

Goals and Objectives

Goal: Maintain, enhance and restore alkali playa vegetation communities on Conserved Lands in the MSPA that supports or has the potential to support VF species (i.e., Coulter's saltbush, Parish's brittlescale, southern tarplant) so that the vegetation community has high ecological integrity, and these species are resilient to environmental stochasticity, catastrophic disturbances and threats, such as very large wildfires, invasive plants and prolonged drought, and will be likely to persist over the long term (>100 years).

regional and/or local NFO 2018 VF

Management units: 3, 5

In 2018, inspect occurrences of alkali playa MSP VF plant species (i.e., Coulter's saltbush, Parish's brittlescale, southern tarplant) on Conserved Lands using the regional IMG monitoring protocol to record abundance and collect habitat and threat covariate data to determine management needs.

Action Statement Action status Projects
IMP-1 Based upon occurrence status and threats, determine management needs including whether routine management or more intensive management is warranted. on hold
IMP-2 Submit project metadata, monitoring datasets and management recommendations to the MSP Web Portal. on hold
Criteria Deadline year
Surveys Completed 2018 with Management Recommendations 2021
Threat Name Threat Code
Altered hydrologyALTHYD
Human uses of the PreservesHUMUSE
Invasive plantsINVPLA
Urban developmentURBDEV
File name Lead Author Year Type
MSP Roadmap Dec 31, 2016: VF Species and Vegetation Goals, Objectives, and Actions San Diego Management and Monitoring Program 2016 other

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.

Literature Sources

[1] CNPS, Rare Plant Program. 2016. Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants (online edition, v8-02). California Native Plant Society, Sacramento, CA., accessed 25

[2] Reiser, C.H. 2001. Rare Plants of San Diego County. Aquafir Press, Imperial Beach, CA.