What is it?
Tamarix, also known as saltcedar, is an aggressively invasive shrub or small tree. It typically grows in wet and salty soils. It is native to southern Europe, north Africa, and south Asia, and was introduced to the United States as a garden ornamental.
Is it here yet?
Yes. Saltcedar has been documented across Washington, with larger infestations in eastern Washington.
Why should I care?
Saltcedar causes significant impacts to riparian areas and wetlands. Its deep root system and large water demands can lower groundwater tables significantly and increase surface soil salinity, stressing many native plants. It increases fire risk and rebounds following fires. Saltcedar’s root systems can choke streambeds and aquifers, causing flooding. The plant offers poor forage and habitat for most species.
What should I do if I find one?
How can we stop it?
Prevent spread by cleaning boots, equipment, tires, and other gear that may have touched the plant or seeds. Saltcedar is on Washington’s Terrestrial Noxious Weed Seed and Plant Quarantine list, meaning it is prohibited to transport, buy, sell, offer for sale, or distribute saltcedar plants, plant parts, or seeds (Washington Administrative Code 16-752-610). Saltcedar is listed as a Class B noxious weed in Washington, meaning it is designated for control in certain state regions.
What are its characteristics?
- Saltcedar is a deciduous plant, which looks like a shrubby cedar, growing 4-18 feet tall.
- The plant has many thin, reddish-brown branches extending vertically, covered with small green needle-like leaves and small pale pink or white flowers.
- Leaves are often covered in sodium deposits secreted by the plant.