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Salt cedar

Tamarix spp.

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  • Shrub or small tree, 5 to 20 feet tall.
  • Pale green leaves are small and scale-like, on thin stems with many branches.
  • Flowers pink to white in color, appearing from spring to late summer.

Identification key in: Hickman, J. ed. 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University of California Press.

Habitat and local distribution

  • Well-adapted to alkaline soils, wind, and a wide range of temperatures; typically found along waterways.


  • Excludes other plants from growing underneath, due to salt deposited from leaves.
  • Aggressive root system depletes ground water needed by native species.

Prevention and Control


  • Plant natives or spread native seed in disturbed areas.
  • Search threatened areas regularly (at least annually) to look for newly arrived plants.

General control notes

  • Difficult to eradicate since species spreads rapidly and usually resprouts after treatment. Follow-up monitoring to treat resprouts essential (Lovich 2000).

Manual or mechanical control

(Lovich 2000)

  • Root plowing and cutting—useful for initial removal of heavy infestations; follow-up application of herbicides suggested to treat resprouting.
  • Estimated costs: vary depending on if volunteers conduct removal and on the plant density; equipment costs range may from $100 to over $1,000 (Gibbons et al. 1999). There may be additional fees for disposal of plant material.
  • Pulling by hand—uprooting of seedlings and small plants.
  • Prescribed burning—useful for reducing biomass prior to herbicide application.
  • Flooding—effective when thickets can be flooded for one to two years.

Biological control

  • Biological control agents—USDA currently testing several insect species from other countries for release in United States (DeLoach 1997).
  • Grazing—cattle grazing can reduce amounts of sprout regrowth (Gary 1960).

Chemical control

(Lovich 2000)

  • Apply triclopyr (as Pathfinder II®) to bark of smaller stems (< 4-inch diameter); wet bark at base of stem prior to herbicide application.
  • Treatment of resprouts by glyphosate (Rodeo® or RoundupPro®) or imazapyr (Arsenal®) during growing season; only Rodeo® is registered for aquatic habitats.
  • Estimated costs: costs for materials and application by a contractor are approximately $250 per acre for glyphosate, depending on size of treatment area, scale of treatment, and herbicide dosage. It is recommended to contract a licensed professional for herbicide applications (Gibbons et al. 1999).

Integrated control

  • Cut larger shrubs and apply triclopyr (as Garlon 4® or Garlon 3A®); use of Garlon 3A® most effective when applied during growing season (Lovich 2000).

References and more information

DeLoach, C.J. 1997. Biological control of weeds in the United States and Canada . In: Luken, J.O and J.W. Thieret (eds.). Assessment and Management of Plant Invasions. Springer-Verlag , New York , NY.

Gary, H.L. 1960. Utilization of five-stamen tamarisk by cattle. Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. Research Notes. 51:1-3.

Gibbons, M.V., M.G. Rosenkranz, H.L. Gibbons, Jr., and M.D. Sytsma. 1999. Guide for Developing Integrated Aquatic Vegetation Management in Oregon. Center for Lakes and Reservoirs, Portland State University, Portland, OR.

Lovich, J. 2000. Tamarix spp. In Invasive Plants of California Wildlands. Carla C. Bossard, John M. Randall, Marc C. Hoshovsky, Editors. University of California Press. Available at .

A Success Story: Tamarisk Control at a Coachella Valley Preserve, Southern California. T. Martin. 2001. The Nature Conservancy, Wildland Invasive Species Program. Available at

Element Stewardship Abstract for Tamarix ramosissima Ledebour , Tamarix pentndra Pallas, Tamarix chinensis Loureiro, Tamarix parviflora De Candolle, salt cedar, tamarisk. A.T. Carpenter. 1999. The Nature Conservancy, Wildland Invasive Species Team. Arlington, VA. Available at .

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