Salt Cedar

Salt Cedar 1Salt Cedar or Tamarisk (Tamarix aphylla, T. chinensis)
Most saltcedars, or tamarisks, are deciduous shrubs or small trees growing to 12-15 feet in height and forming dense thickets. Tamarix aphylla is an evergreen tree that can grow to 50 feet tall and tends to flower during the winter. Saltcedars are characterized by slender branches and gray-green foliage. The bark of young branches is smooth and reddish-brown. As the plants age, the bark becomes brownish-purple, ridged and furrowed. Leaves are scale-like, about 1/16 inch long and overlap each other along the stem. They are often encrusted with salt secretions. From March to September, large numbers of pink to white flowers appear in dense masses on 2-inch long spikes at branch tips.

Saltcedar occurs in the intermountain region of the western United States, throughout the Great Basin, and California and Texas. Saltcedar was introduced to the western U.S. as an ornamental shrub in the early 1800s.

Salt Cedar 2Habitat 
Saltcedar establishes in disturbed and undisturbed streams, waterways, bottomlands, banks and drainage washes of natural or artificial waterbodies, moist rangelands and pastures, and other areas where seedlings can be exposed to extended periods of saturated soil for establishment. Saltcedar can grow on highly saline soils containing up to 15,000 ppm soluble salt and can tolerate alkali conditions.

Biology & Spread
Saltcedar spreads vegetatively, by adventitious roots or submerged stems, and sexually. Each flower can produce thousands of tiny (1/25-inch diameter) seeds that are contained in a small capsule usually adorned with a tuft of hair that aids in wind dispersal. Seeds can also be dispersed by water. Seedlings require extended periods of soil saturation for establishment.

Additional Information