Practical information to identify and manage non-native, invasive plants and animals
The Quiet Invasion:
A Guide to Invasive Species of the Galveston Bay Area
Saltcedar, tamarisk
Tamarix ramosissima

USDA Symbol:TARA
ITIS TSN:22310
Presence:Current Invaders
Habitat:Terrestrial
Native Range:Europe and Asia
Toxic Characteristics
This species is not known to be toxic.
Geographic Distribution
Dominant in Kansas to Texas west to California, as well as all other Great Plains states, and the Southeastern U.S. excluding Alabama and Florida. Found in the Lower Galveston Bay watershed in Harris, Chambers, and Galveston counties.
Introduction Pathways
Brought to the western United States in the early 1800s as an ornamental. By the late 1800s, had escaped, and was recognized as a watershed problem by the 1920s.
Specific Primary Habitats
High preference to riparian and wetland areas. Tolerates different ranges of salinity and alkalinity in soils. High affinity to seasonally surface-saturated soils. Once established, can tolerate drought.
Identifying Characteristics
Exists as a loosely-branched shrub or small tree with fine-textured foliage. Leaves are no larger than 0.2 in. and are alternate, simple, and light green. Flowers are white and pink, growing on thin stalks. Seeds are a fraction of a millimeter in size, and are enclosed in capsules.
Reproduction Characteristics
On-site colonization occurs through vegetative rooting of submersed stems. Spreads off-site via water-dispersed seeds. Flowers most abundantly between April and August, prolifically producing seeds, which germinate almost immediately upon moistening.
Growth Characteristics
Saltcedar can grow 9 to 12 feet in one growing season. Once established as a mature seedling, growth and environmental tolerance greatly increases.
Ecological, Economic, or Social Impact
Saltcedar disturbs aquatic food chains in streams, and as a litter, is a poor resource for aquatic invertebrates. It also secretes salt, inhibiting other native plants from germinating, and lowers groundwater levels due to its high water consumption.
Control
Large thickets can be bulldozed, followed by root plowing. Imazapyr and glyphosate are also effective against large stands. For small sites, use triclopyr on a cut stump or basal bark. For aquatic sites, use Arsenal and Habitat as a foliar treatment.

Native Species Alternatives
Below is a list of alternative plants that are native to the area:
  • Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis var. canadensis)
  • Blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica)
  • Water oak (Quercus nigra)
This species belongs to the following lists:
Images
To view a larger version of an image, click on the thumbnail.
Saltcedar establishing on a beach. Photo courtesy of Steve Dewey, Utah State University, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 1299120.
Saltcedar establishing on a beach. Photo courtesy of Steve Dewey, Utah State University, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 1299120.
Single saltcedar plant in flower. Photo courtesy of Steve Dewey, Utah State University, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 1624020.
Single saltcedar plant in flower. Photo courtesy of Steve Dewey, Utah State University, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 1624020.
Near-entire saltcedar infestation of the riparian zone of a stream. Photo courtesy of Steve Dewey, Utah State University, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 1624021.
Near-entire saltcedar infestation of the riparian zone of a stream. Photo courtesy of Steve Dewey, Utah State University, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 1624021.
Flowers and buds of saltcedar. Photo courtesy of James Manhart, Digital Flora of Texas Vascular Plant Image Library, http://www.csdl.tamu.edu.
Flowers and buds of saltcedar. Photo courtesy of James Manhart, Digital Flora of Texas Vascular Plant Image Library, http://www.csdl.tamu.edu.
Page Updated/Reviewed: 07/14/2010 8:32 AM
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