Tamarix ramosissima

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Tamarix ramosissima
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Tamaricaceae
Genus: Tamarix
T. ramosissima
Binomial name
Tamarix ramosissima

Tamarix ramosissima, commonly known as saltcedar[1] salt cedar, or tamarisk, is a deciduous arching shrub with reddish stems, feathery, pale green foliage, and characteristic small pink flowers.

The cultivar 'Pink Cascade' (dark pink flowered) has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[2][3]


Tamarix ramossissima at Villeurbanne, France

Tamarix ramosissima is a hardy shrub or small tree native to Europe and Asia. It is a vigorous, deciduous shrub grown for its ornamental reddish stems, its showy plumes of flowers, and its unusual feathery leaves. Its hardiness and tolerance for poor soil make it a popular, easy to grow shrub. It can grow up to 8 m in height and up to 5 m in width. It can be used as a screen, windbreak, informal hedge or specimen shrub.[4]

It produces upright racemes of small, pink, five-petaled flowers from late summer to early autumn which cover the new wood of the plant. It is tolerant of many soil types, but prefers a well-drained, light or sandy soil in full sun. This plant is considered an invasive species in warmer climates.[4]

Invasive species[edit]

Tamarix ramosissima is a major invasive plant species in the Southwestern United States and Desert Region of California, consuming large amounts of groundwater in riparian and oases habitats.[4] The balance and strength of the native flora and fauna are being helped by various restoration projects, by removing tamarisk groves as if they were noxious weeds.[5] Recent scientific investigations have generally concluded that the primary human-caused impact to desert riparian ecosystems within the Colorado River Basin is the alteration of the flood regime by dams; Tamarix ramosissima is relatively tolerant of this hydrologic alteration compared to flood-dependent native woody riparian species such as willow, cottonwood, and box elder.[6]

Research on competition between tamarisk seedlings and co-occurring native trees has found that Tamarix seedlings are not competitive over a range of environments,[7][8][9] but stands of mature trees effectively prevent native species' establishment in the understory, due to low light, elevated salinity, and possibly changes to the soil biota.[10][11] Box elder (Acer negundo, a native riparian tree) seedlings survive and grow under higher-shade conditions than Tamarix seedlings, and mature Tamarix specimens die after 1–2 years of 98% shade, indicating a pathway for successional replacement of Tamarix by box elder.[12] Anthropogenic activities that preferentially favor tamarisk (such as changes to flooding regimens) are associated with infestation.[13][14][15] To date, Tamarix has taken over large sections of riparian ecosystems in the western United States that were once home to native cottonwoods and willows,[16][17][18][19] and are projected by some to spread well beyond the current range.[20]


The plant's common name refers to its ability to tolerate salt water[21] by excreting salt into its leaves through specialized salt glands — thereby producing salt deposits which kill other species;[22] these salt deposits can also weaken interatomic binding in soil clays, leading to increased erosion.[21] However, a study involving more than a thousand soil samples across gradients of both flood frequency and Tamarix density concluded that "flooding may be the most important factor for assessing floodplain salinity" and "soils under Tamarix canopies had lower surface soil salinity than open areas deprived of flooding suggesting that surface evaporation may contribute more to surface soil salinity than Tamarix".[23]


  1. ^ "saltcedar". Invasive Plant Atlas. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  2. ^ "Tamarix ramosissima 'Pink Cascade' | /RHS Gardening". www.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  3. ^ "Tamarix ramosissima 'Pink Cascade'". BBC Gardeners' World Magazine. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Zouhar, Kris. 2003. Tamarix spp. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory.
  5. ^ Afton Canyon Riparian Restoration Project Fourth Year Status Report. Archived 2015-12-06 at the Wayback Machine Bureau of Land Management. accessed 6/20/2010
  6. ^ Wolf, E. (June 6, 2016). "Science driving a new management strategy for Tamarix" (PDF).
  7. ^ Sher, Anna A.; Marshall, Diane L.; Gilbert, Steven A. (2000). "Competition between native Populus deltoides and invasive Tamarix ramosissima and the implications of reestablishing flooding disturbance". Conservation Biology. 14 (6): 1744–1754. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.2000.99306.x.
  8. ^ Sher, A.A.; Marshall, D.L.; Taylor, J.P. (June 2002). "Establishment patterns of native Populus and Salix in the presence of invasive, non-native Tamarix". Ecological Applications. 12 (3): 760–772. doi:10.1890/1051-0761(2002)012[0760:eponpa]2.0.co;2.
  9. ^ Sher, A. A.; Marshall, D. L. (2003). "Competition between native and exotic floodplain tree species across water regimes and soil textures". American Journal of Botany. 90 (3): 413–422. doi:10.3732/ajb.90.3.413. PMID 21659134.
  10. ^ Busch, David E.; Smith, Stanley D. (1995). "Mechanisms associated with decline of woody species in riparian ecosystems of the southwestern U.S". Ecological Monographs. 65 (3): 347–370. doi:10.2307/2937064. JSTOR 2937064.
  11. ^ Taylor, J.; McDaniel, K. (1998). "Restoration of saltcedar (Tamarix spp.)-infested floodplains on the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge". Weed Technology. 12 (2): 345–352. doi:10.1017/S0890037X0004392X.
  12. ^ Dewine, J. M.; Cooper, D. J. (April 2008). "Canopy shade and the successional replacement of tamarisk by native box elder". Journal of Applied Ecology. 45 (2): 505–514. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2007.01440.x. ISSN 1365-2664.
  13. ^ Shafroth, Patrick; Stromberg, Juliet; Patten, Duncan (2000). "Woody riparian vegetation response to different alluvial water table regimes" (PDF). Western North American Naturalist. 60: 66–76.
  14. ^ Merritt, David M.; Cooper, David J. (2000). "Riparian vegetation and channel change in response to river regulation: A comparative study of regulated and unregulated streams in the Green River Basin, USA". Regulated Rivers: Research and Management. 16 (6): 543–564. doi:10.1002/1099-1646(200011/12)16:6<543::AID-RRR590>3.0.CO;2-N.
  15. ^ Horton, J. L.; Kolb, T. E.; Hart, S. C. (2001). "Responses of riparian trees to interannual variation in ground water depth in a semi-arid river basin". Plant, Cell and Environment. 24 (3): 293–304. CiteSeerX doi:10.1046/j.1365-3040.2001.00681.x.
  16. ^ Christensen, E. M. (1962). "The Rate of Naturalization of Tamarix in Utah". American Midland Naturalist. 68 (1): 51–57. doi:10.2307/2422635. JSTOR 2422635.
  17. ^ Stromberg, J. C. (1998). "Dynamics of Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii) and saltcedar (Tamarix chinesis) populations along the San Pedro River, Arizona". Journal of Arid Environments. 40 (2): 133–155. Bibcode:1998JArEn..40..133S. doi:10.1006/jare.1998.0438.
  18. ^ Zamora-Arroyo F, Nagler PL, Briggs M, Radtke D, et al. (2001). "Regeneration of native trees in response to flood releases from the United States into the delta of the Colorado River, Mexico". Journal of Arid Environments. 49 (1): 49–64. Bibcode:2001JArEn..49...49Z. doi:10.1006/jare.2001.0835.
  19. ^ Zavaleta, E. (December 2000). "The economic value of controlling an invasive shrub". Ambio: A Journal of the Human Environment. 29 (8): 462–467. doi:10.1639/0044-7447(2000)029[0462:tevoca]2.0.co;2.
  20. ^ Morisette JT, Jarnevich CS, Ullah A, Cai W, et al. (2006). "A tamarisk habitat suitability map for the continental United States". Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 4 (1): 11–17. doi:10.1890/1540-9295(2006)004[0012:ATHSMF]2.0.CO;2.
  21. ^ a b Which came first, the salt or the saltcedar? A quantitative study of soil and groundwater chemistry along the Middle Rio Grande, New Mexico, by Michelle Cederborg, at the Colorado Riparian Association; published April 20, 2008; retrieved April 24, 2019
  22. ^ Invasive Weeds - Salt Cedar, at the USDA Forest Service; retrieved April 24, 2019
  23. ^ Ohrtman, M. (2009). "Quantifying soil and groundwater chemistry in areas invaded by Tamarix spp. along the Middle Rio Grande, New Mexico".

Further reading[edit]