Tamarix ramosissima



The Basics

Taxonomy: Kingdom - Plantae (plants). Subkingdom - Tracheobionta (vascular plants). Superdivision - Spermatophyta (seed plants). Division - Magnoliophyta (Flowering plants). Class - Magnoliopsida. Order - Violales. Family - Tamaricaceae (Tamarix family). Genus -Tamarix L. Species - Tamarix ramosissima Ledeb.

Ecology: A deciduous shrub or small tree in the Tamarisk family (Tamaricaceae) growing to 1.5-9 meters in height and forming dense thickets. Stems are slender, light red, or orange-yellow and weeping when young. Older bark is grey. Leaves are compound, alternate, scale-like and tightly overlapping along the stem. Flowers are pale pink to white dense plumes that bloom from early spring to late fall. Fruit capsules contain numerous tiny (1/25 –inch diameter) seeds. Reproduction is by root expansion, resprouts and by seeds that are dispersed through the air and by water


General: Shrub or small tree, 1-5 in tall, with reddish or reddish brown bark. Leaves sessile, ovate or deltoid cordate, 2-4 (-5) mm long, 1-2 mm broad acute, somewhat subamplexicaul.

Inflorescence: aestival and vernal both, aestival densely compound racemes, vernal simple, loose, 1-5 (-7) cm long, 3-4 (-5) mm broad on 0.2-1 cm long peduncles. Bracts ovate, trullate, triangular 1.5-2 mm long, 0.5 mm broad, acute, acuminate, with denticulate margin especially in their lower parts, pedicel very small, 0.5 mm long.

Flowers: pentamerous. Calyx 0.75-1.25 mm long, sepals 0.5-1 mm long inner 3 much broader than the outer 2, ovate, acute, irregularly denticulate with somewhat scarious margin. Petals pink to pinkish purple rarely white, obovate-elliptic obovate, inequilateral, slightly notched at the apex 1.25-1.75 mm long, 0.75-1 mm broad, persistent. Stamens 5, filaments filiform 2.5-3 mm long, inserted in between the lobes of the disc i.e. mesodiscine disc, lobes of the disc deeply emarginate, insertion hypodiscal, anthers obtuse. Styles 3, clavate, connivent, ovary stipitate. Capsule trigonous, 4-5 mm long, 0.75-1 mm broad, dehiscing by 3 longitudinal slits


Fire: Tamarisk is usually top-killed by fire, and severe fire may kill the entire plant. Tamarisk seeds withstand a dry heat of 100 °C for 20 minutes; higher temperatures kill seeds within a few minutes.

Biological control agents: for saltcedar include fifteen insects. Two of these, a mealybug (Trabutina mannipara) and a leaf beetle (Diorhabda elongata), have preliminary approval for release. Five others are being tested within the United States and an additional eight species are under study overseas. Final approval for release of the mealybug and the leaf beetle is pending. >


Pollination: Tamarisk flowers are bisexual. It has been stated by some that saltcedar has a self-compatible breeding system. Wind pollination and selfing are under investigation.

Seed Production and Dissemination - Tamarisk plants may flower in their 1st year of growth but most begin to reproduce in their 3rd year or later. Saltcedar flowers occur in dense panicles on young tissues at or near the end of vegetative stems. Because saltcedar reproduces sexually throughout most of the growing season, a small plant can produce a substantial seed crop, and a large plant may bear several hundred thousand seeds in a single growing season.

Seedling Development -Receding spring and summer flows leave saturated soils that are ideal for tamarisk, cottonwood, and willow germination and seedling establishment. However, saltcedar produces seeds over a much longer period and can establish throughout the summer during low flow regimes when seeds of the other species are not present. Saltcedar seedling establishment and survival in these low landscape positions is facilitated by 3 or 4 sequential low flow years, after which they appear able to survive very large floods. Tamarisk seedlings are sensitive to drying, and survival is dependent upon saturated soils during the first 2 to 4 weeks of growth. However, even as seedlings, tamarisk is more desiccation tolerant than sandbar willow seedlings. Tamarisk seedlings can be submerged for several days (most survived even after 24 days), but 4-6 weeks of submergence killed the majority of tamarisk seedlings in one study. Also, when seedlings are small they are easily detached from soil and float away if there is any appreciable current.

Asexual regeneration: All of the aboveground portions of saltcedar develop adventitious roots and form new plants if kept in warm, moist soil. This allows tamarisk to produce new plants vegetatively from stems torn from the parent plants and buried by sediment during floods. If stem cuttings are allowed to dry, even for as little as 1 day, their sprouting capability is reduced.

Species Distribution


Invasive plants of North America
Czarapata, Elizabeth J. Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest, An Illustrated Guide to their Identification and Control, 2005 p. 125-126, Invasive Plants Established in the United States that are Found in Asia and their Associated Natural Enemies USDA FS, FHTET 2005-15 p. 134-136

USDA Plants Database
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
Distribution Map photo credit

USFS Plant Database
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.

Flora of Pakistan
Flora of Pakistan Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of Pakistan. Page. 19.

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Burke Museum. 2017. Tamarix ramosissima [Online]. University of Washington.
Photo credit: Bud Kovalchik.