An Illustrated Guide to ARIZONA WEEDS

The University of Arizona Press

SALTCEDAR, tamarisk



SALTCEDAR-Tamarix pentandra Pall.

DESCRIPTION-A beautiful shrub or small tree, especially in flower, which reproduces by seeds. The long slender grayish green branches are upright or spreading, often forming shrubby thickets many feet in diameter, mostly 10 to 12 (or to 15) feet high. The small grayish green narrow pointed leaves, about 1/16 inch long, are crowded on the stems often overlapping one another. They have the appearance of evergreen leaves, but are actually deciduous.

The myriads of little flowers, from deep pink to nearly white, are about 1/16 inch in diameter and crowded in many slender spikes, 1/2 to 2 inches long, forming a dense showy mass at the top of the branches. The slender tapering many seeded pods are pinkish red to greenish yellow, 1/8 to nearly 1/5 inch long, splitting into 3 to 5 parts when mature. The tiny seeds are less than 1/25 inch long, and have a tuft of fine silky hairs at the tip. The bark is reddish brown and fairly smooth at first, but becomes ridged and furrowed.

DISTRIBUTION-Saltcedar was introduced from Eurasia, but soon escaped cultivation. Now it is abundant in the bottomlands, banks, and drainage washes of all the rivers and other watercourses throughout the state, including the irrigation ditches and the Grand Canyon. It is very drought-resistant, and grows in all types of soil, including alkali and salty soil. Found principally in deserts and desert grasslands at 100 to 5,000 feet elevation or sometimes to 6,000 feet in northern Arizona, as in Canyon de Chelly (Apache County), where it is common; flowering March to September.

At one time saltcedar was looked upon with favor as a check to erosion, a windbreak, and a source of honey, but now its abundance makes it a nuisance in the big rivers.

Copyright (c) 1972 The Arizona Board of Regents

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