Tamarisk (Tamarix ramosissima)

Image above adapted from Petrides, George & Olivia Petrides, 1992, A Field Guide to Western Trees, Pl. 10, Houghton-Mifflin.

Tamarisk (popularly known as "salt cedar") was originally introduced into the American West by way of New York and Washington nurseries early in the 19th century, escaping cultivation in Utah and Texas by the late 19th century. By 1916 a prominent Arizona botanist was pushing its introduction here, and it is now found along many rivers not only in Arizona but throughout the West and northern Mexico. Salt cedars are ravenous of water (a large tree can consume 200 gallons per day), with long taproots that can intercept deep watertables and deplete them. Yet once established on watercourses they can persist through drought. They tend to drive out native plants and animals, their non-nutritious, tiny and wind/water-dispersed seeds spreading in countless thousands as the trees tend to form nearly impenetrable thickets. Their leaves absorb salts, and when they form duff contribute to salinization of the soil. The trees burn readily but are fire-adapted. The trunk of this bush/tree is distinctively reddish-brown. In mature trees, the trunk is brownish-purple and ridged/furrowed. See Tamarisk details for further images and maps.

Below, a Tamarisk directly behind the man stands out by virtue of its bright yellowish-rust color, in January 2003 just below the Narrows of Upper Hot Springs Canyon.


Details of sightings and actions regarding Tamarisk in our area:

Hot Springs Canyon

Saltcedar -- A large tree right above the Narrows (photostation no. 09) on the right bank; this one may be the source of another one on the left bank just below the Narrows between photostations no. 07 and 08 on the left bank -- smaller, but both these trees should be cut down. Another, small one near photostation no. 10 was cut down in 2001.

Muleshoe Spring

Saltcedar -- located mid-wash near the upper reach of the main stand of cottonwoods in the main spring area. This tree was a good bit taller than an adult person. We cut it back to the base in 1997 (?) but it should be entirely uprooted ASAP.

Sierra Blanca Wash

Saltcedar -- located mid-wash, near the upper end of the Island above the confluence with Sierra Blanca Spring Wash. This bush was only a foot to 1 1/2 feet high when it was cut back to the base in 1998 (?), but it should be entirely uprooted ASAP.