/ Salt Cedar - Tamarix spp.
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The species found in the United States are from the Mediterranean region
to the East Indies and Japan. The species are very much alike and difficult
to distinguish except by often minute technical characteristics of the
flowers, frequently requiring as much as 20x magnification. This system
provides descriptions of the genus; if species determination is desired,
a regional manual can be consulted.
The most widespread species are T. chinensis Lour., Chinese
tamarisk, T. parviflora DC., T. ramosissima Ledeb.,
T. gallica L., salt-cedar and T. pentandra Pall. Apparently,
all species are also referred to by the common name tamarisk.
Plants are deciduous, although sometimes leaves persist through mild
winters. The plants are shrubs or small trees with irregularly spreading-ascending,
elongate branches, the leafy branchlets very slenderly flexuous. The leaves
are alternate, small, scalelike, a few millimeters long, sessile, broadest
basally and more or less clasping or sheathing. The flowers are small,
short-pediceled or sessile with four or five pink or white petals inserted
under a staminal disk. The capsules open into three to five valves. The
seeds are minute, densely bearded, or rarely winged.
Some species resemble opposite or whorled-leaved Juniperus, juniper or
red cedar, but Tamarix leaves are alternate.
Habit and habitat characteristics are discussed above in the Home Range/U.S.
These trees and shrubs provide shade and are excellent providers of nectar,
which is very important in the production of honey . Because of their
tolerance to alkaline and saline conditions, they are valuable as shade
and ornamental plants. However, in many regions they have become a serious
problem because they have formed extensive stands and cause great water
losses. These trees take in so much more water than the native plants
they displace that they have desiccated southwestern and Californian desert
wetlands. They have become so abundant on islands of the Gulf that much
of the native vegetation has been eliminated.
Links to more information
Website, video, and graphics by Rob Nelson
For more information on this plant or management please contact US Army Corp of Engineers