Some cultivars will grow up to 6 feet (2 metres) tall, others will peak out at 2 feet (60 cm.) They have broad, arrow-shaped leaves 5 to 7 inches (12 1/2 to 18 cm) long, and 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7 1/2 cm) wide. The leaves can be yellowish, lime green, green or a Bordeaux red. The stems will be the same colour as the leaves. You may see the red varieties referred to as “Red Orach” (or Atriplex hortensis ‘Rubra’.) The cultivars with very pale green or yellow leaves are referred to as “white.”
The leaves of some cultivars may have toothy edges and be very ornamental; people often grow them amongst their flower beds. The plant blooms with tiny flowers that don’t have any petals, and then produces tiny light yellow papery husks that each have 1 seed in them. You plant the entire husk to grow the plant.
It does well in heat and full sun, though some varieties are quick to bolt in the heat.
In some parts of North America, such as Manitoba, it’s regarded as a noxious weed.
Harvest for eating before it reaches 12 inches (30 cm) tall. It will take 35 to 40 days to reach this height.
The leaves are very tender when harvested young. They can be used in leafy salads, or as a potherb. If using as a potherb, cook very briefly.
The red leaves stay red when cooked.
Orach is presumed native to western Asia. Naturalized in Europe and North America.
“Orach” comes from the French word “arroche”, which comes from the Latin “aurago.”