Great Basin Seed
450 South 50 East
Ephraim, UT 84627
Give us a call at 435-283-1411
M-F 8am-5pm MST
Questions? Gives us a call at 435.283.1411 Monday – Friday from 8am – 5pm.
Shadscale saltbrush is a densely branched and spiny dioecious shrub 1 to 3 feet tall. Shadscale occurs in arid climates that receive 4 to 8 inches of precipitation annually. It occurs on dry slopes, flat areas, ridges, and valley bottoms, from 4000 to 7000 feet in elevation. It can form almost pure stands in some locations. It is resistant to overgrazing and is drought tolerant. Tolerance to drought is achieved through partial shedding of leaves; this reduces water loss during severe moisture stress. The spines of shadscale allow only 15 to 20% of the previous summers herbaceous growth to be grazed. Leaves are salty to the taste.
Shadscale growth is greatly related to seasonal precipitation. Shadscale is not fully deciduous, retaining the majority of its leaves through winter. A small proportion of leaves are shed in the fall, with new leaves produced in March or April. It prefers well-drained, moderately saline soils where groundwater is below the rooting zone.
Shadscale saltbrush is used by all classes of livestock, as well as by mule deer, for forage. It is used mostly during winter and spring for browse. Late spring or summer grazing, especially if intensive, is injurious to shadscale. The fruits provide food for game birds and songbirds. The seeds of shadscale remain on the plant throughout the winter, enhancing its nutritional value.
Prolonged periods of high soil moisture are believed to increase shadscale’s susceptibility to parasites and disease. Shadscale is very susceptible to water mold, root rot, and vascular wilt fungi.