Tamarix ramosissima

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Legend for Species Pages

Saltcedar, Tamarisk

Tamarix ramosissima Ledebour, T. chinensis de Loureiro, and their hybrids
  • Moss, Flora of Alberta – No
  • Global Invasive Species Database – Yes
  • NatureServe Rank – High - Widespread in the western US where it has been associated with severe ecosystem degradation.May prove difficult to remove.
  • Haber, Upland – No
  • Haber, Wetland – No
  • CWF, Status & Invasive Range – No
  • Alberta Revegetation Guidelines – No
  • The Nature Conservancy – Yes, w/ ESA
  • CBCN – No
  • AB Weed – Prohibited Noxious


Introduced from Eurasia in early to mid-1800's. Used as ornamental, and for erosion control. Naturalized and identified as a problem in riparian areas of SW USA by 1920. Colonizes fine sediments exposed as water in reservoirs, ditches and dugouts recedes. Seeds are dispersed long distances by wind and water. Pearce & Smith report contiguous distribution along the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers in Montana and North Dakota extending north to Ft. Peck Reservoir MT and Williston ND, at the confluence of the Milk River with the Missouri (both at about the 48th parallel), and extending up the Milk River as far north from the confluence as Harve, MT. Established in dry reservoirs in Wyoming, MT,and ND during drought in the 1960's, it has spread into adjoining areas and become widely naturalized. Natureserve says MB, SD, ND, no Northwest states, but similar species of saltcedar occur in WA, OR, and ID. Hybridizes with Tamarix chinensis in MT and ND.

Two plants were noted in one of the gardens at the legislative grounds in Edmonton - planted before the species was listed in the weed act. Seedlings were coming up in addition to the two planted specimens, but all were dug or pulled fall 2013.

[1] Link to Bugwood Invasipedia wiki for extensive information on biology, ecology, and management of Tamarix species.

Saltcedar in flower, C.M. Pearce
Close-up of Saltcedar in flower, C.M. Pearce
Saltcedar in seed, C.M. Pearce


1. Pearce, Cheryl M., Smith, Derald G., SALTCEDAR: DISTRIBUTION, ABUNDANCE, AND DISPERSAL MECHANISMS, NORTHERN MONTANA, USA, Journal Article, 2003, Wetlands, 215-228, V 23, No. 2, [2] June 01, 2003.

Abstract: Introduced saltcedar (Tamarix ramosissima, T. chinensis, and their hybrids) reaches its northward distribution in the Great Plains in Montana, USA. We mapped the locations, patterns of abundance, and ages of saltcedar along the Musselshell River and Fort Peck Reservoir in northeastern Montana to identify concentrations of plants that could be used to infer introduction location, establishment year, and mechanisms of dispersal. We estimated the presence of 24,500 plants on the Musselshell River over a river distance of 240 km, with concentrations at three nodes close to Roundup (2,000 plants, seedlings to 24 years), Melstone (6,000 plants, seedlings to 23 years), and the mouth of the river at Fort Peck Reservoir (10,000 plants, seedlings to at least 11 years). Concentrations at Roundup and Melstone probably originated from urban plantings in the 1960s. The third concentration may have established from seeds and plant pieces washed downriver during floods and deposited in the hydraulic backwater of the Musselshell River delta at Fort Peck Reservoir. We believe there may be one-half to one million plants on Fort Peck Reservoir, with concentration nodes at recreation areas on the south shore. We estimated 3,500 mature saltcedar to be present at the Devils Creek Recreation Area, more than 11,000 plants at Hell Creek Recreation Area, and more than 40,000 plants at 6 sites at the south end of Dry Arm close to the Nelson Creek Recreation Area and mouth of Big Dry Creek. The oldest plants on the reservoir were 21 to 33 years old in 2001. Based on these ages, we suggest that saltcedar arrived at the south shore of Fort Peck Reservoir in the mid- to late 1960s, which means that it must have dispersed from the Bighorn/Yellowstone River system soon after it became established in southern Montana. Although wind dispersal and ornamental plantings cannot be ruled out as primary transport mechanisms to the reservoir, the concentrations and ages of saltcedar at recreation areas suggest that seeds and other plant propagules were also transported to the reservoir by earth-moving equipment during site construction between 1966 and the mid-1980s and later by boats and their towing vehicles. Saltcedar was dispersed away from these nodes by wind and water. As Tamarix ramosissima and T. chinensis originated in the cold dry deserts of northeastern Asia, saltcedar may not be limited in its northward expansion by the cold winters, short growing seasons, and periodic droughts characteristic of the northern Great Plains in Canada.

2. From: NEWS RELEASE – WEED OF THE WEEK SERIES, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 20 SEPTEMBER 2006, by Lisa Scott, Weed Coordinator for the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District, email info@rdos.bc.ca.

Saltcedar or tamarisk (Tamarix ramosissima) is considered a shrub or small tree, growing from 1.5 - 7.0 metres (5 – 23 feet) tall. Its numerous branches are slender, with small, alternate, greyish-green overlapping or scale-like leaves. Pink or white flowers bloom in dense masses on 1 cm long spikes at branch tips from March to September. The genus Tamarix is native to a zone stretching from southern Europe and North Africa through the Middle East and south Asia to China and Japan. It was introduced to the western United States as an ornamental and for use in erosion control in the mid-1800s. Saltcedar is now established or known in many desert regions of the western US, including Washington, Idaho and Montana. Tamarix ramosissima is sold as an ornamental under the name "Pink Cascade" Tamarisk in some BC nurseries. It is considered an aggressive ornamental that should be prevented from escaping cultivation. Saltcedar reproduces from seed and by re-sprouting from roots and underground stems. A single mature plant can produce thousands of tiny, hairy seeds that are dispersed widely by wind and water. Seeds are capable of germination within 24 hours. Saltcedar most commonly grows on floodplains, along irrigation ditches and on lakeshores, tolerating a wide range of saline or alkaline soils.

Despite its attractiveness, saltcedar poses some serious environmental concerns. Its long taproot penetrates the soil to deep water tables and interferes with natural aquatic systems. Mature saltcedar stems and leaves excrete salt, forming an above and below surface crust which inhibits other plants. These characteristics make it an aggressive colonizer that will replace willows, cottonwoods and other native riparian vegetation. Saltcedar's enormous consumption of water stresses native plants by lowering ground water levels thereby drying up springs and marshes. Its massive rooting system can clog watercourses resulting in flooding. Saltcedar can provide cover for some wildlife species but its foliage and flowers contribute little in the way of food value for native wildlife consumption. It is listed as a legislated noxious weed in six U.S. states. So far, it is not known to have caused a concern in B.C., however landscapers are encouraged to plant alternate vegetation and to ensure existing plantings do not escape.

Shafroth, P.B., Brown, C.A., and Merritt, D.M., eds., 2010, Saltcedar and Russian olive control demonstration act science assessment: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2009–5247, 143 p. [3]

Map references

Map data for T. ramosissima