TamariX pentandraTamarisk family Tamaricaceae

Range: Our whole range; w. to CA; n. to ND; e. to FL; s. to Mex. Sandy, moist soils, especially alkaline soils; riverbanks, streambeds, lakeshores, irrigation ditches, wells and springs, low undrained areas, 3,500' - 6,000'.

In spring and most of summer, tamarisk bears large clusters of showy, pink, tiny flowers in profusion, giving the tree a very wispy-hazy-feathery appearance. Its delicate, wiry, drooping branches are covered wfh tiny, grayish green scalelike leaves and resemble somewhat the long, slender branchlets of "cedar" (juniper).

It would be classed as a small tree, growing normally to only about 15 to 20 feet high; however, the largest measured tamarisk is in Albuquerque, New Mexico, presumably growing under ideal conditions. It is 44 feet tall with a trunk diameter of over 2 feet.

The tamarisk is a native of Arabian and mideastern deserts, but came to us by way of the Mediterranean countries. Because of its beautiful feathery flowers, it was introduced as a shade tree and for hedges. It was also planted for erosion control; however, where it has escaped it sometimes becomes a pest not only because it is hard to eradicate once it has established itself, but also because it uses so much water so vitally needed by other native plants.

Birds and small animals have readily adapted themselves to this intruder, using it for nesting sites and for protective cover. The Ord kangaroo rat has been recorded as eating tamarisk seeds and foliage. Even honeybees have learned that its tiny flowers are a good source of nectar.

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