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Shadscale Scrub (Upper Sonoran Life Zone)
Vegetation Around Las Vegas
Shadscale Scrub
shadscale (Atriplex confertifolia)

Shadscale Scrub (Upper Sonoran Life Zone)

Non-technical Description: A vast expanse of shadscale on higher-elevation desert flats with poor drainage in the western and northern Mojave Desert.

Technical Description: Shadscale scrub typically grows on poor drained, alkaline or saline soils heavy with clay, and often underlain by impermeable layers that help water pool on the surface. This habitat type is found on flat valley bottoms from about 3,000 to 6,000 feet in the western and northern Mojave Desert. Summers are very hot and dry, and rainfall is 6 to 10 inches per year.

Vast expanses of Shadscale can be found around the towns of Lancaster and Mojave (CA) in the western Mojave, and northward into the Owens Valley and Death Valley region.

shadscale (Atriplex confertifolia)
Bare areas show where water pools during rain

The Shadscale Scrub vegetation type typically is surrounded on hillsides and higher elevation slopes by the more widespread Mojave Desert Scrub vegetation type where Creosote bush, white bursage, and Joshua trees are common. When in the Shadscale Scrub, these species are the green in the background.

In the Shadscale Scrub vegetation type, shadscale is the dominant shrub, but other salt-tolerant shrub species such as hopsage and winter fat (Kraschenennikovia lanata) also occur. Many species of annual plants bloom in the spring, and the dry, gray landscape often turns yellow, red, purple, and white during spring.

Shadscale Scrub vegetation type is under threat from the invasion of non-native grass, especially red brome grass. Red brome carries wildfires in areas not adapted to fire, killing the existing vegetation and replacing it with grasses. The burned off shrublands may never return to the current conditions.

shadscale (Atriplex confertifolia) shadscale (Atriplex confertifolia)
shadscale (Atriplex confertifolia)
On the edges, creosote and other species mix with shadscale
more to come ...

All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 101101

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