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 NOXIOUS WEED
CO, NM

      There are about seven species of Tamarisk that have invaded the United States.  Six of these are in at least one of the Four Corners states. By far the most widely spread species is Tamarix chinensis, shown below.  All of the species are invaders that clog water-ways, deplete ground water, crowd out native plant species, and interrupt the chain of life in the area. 

   Some research does show, however, that supposed Tamarisk dangers, particularly excessive water consumption, has been over-estimated.  Sophisticated satellite and tree-top imaging of water uptake by Tamarisk suggests that Tamarisk plants soak up much less water than previously indicated and that they colonize some areas that were not inhabited by any other plants  --  thus providing cover and forage. Still, Tamarix, is an invasive species which, in almost all instances, should be eradicated  --  with careful planning.

Tamarix chinensis
Tamarix chinensis (Tamarisk)
Tamaricaceae (Tamarisk Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Streamsides. Spring, summer.
Hunter Canyon, Utah, May 3, 2005.

The beast is a beauty.  Being a noxious weed does not mean that you are ugly.

The specific epithet "Chinensis" indicates this species' origin: China.

Tamarix ramosissima
Tamarix chinensisSynonym: Tamarix ramosissima(Tamarisk)
Tamaricaceae (Tamarisk Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Streamsides. Spring, summer.
Canyon de Chelly National Monument, June 10, 2004.

Tamarisk was introduced to the Southwest perhaps as many as five centuries ago; it has since established itself firmly  --  and tragically.  It forms almost impenetrable thickets that scratch and tear at clothing and flesh; it is capable of exuding excess salt so it can therefore tolerate a broad range of Southwest environments; it crowds out native species; and it is very successful at reaching low water tables with its very deep roots.  And, of course, as is true of all non-native species, Tamarisk changes the relationship of animals to plants, i.e., those animals which found food and habitat in Willows (frequently the losers in their confrontation with Tamarisk) now must either be able to survive on the new food and habitat of Tamarisk, or perish.  Many perish.  

Massive Tamarisk eradication programs are part of every land management agency in the West.  Do an on-line search and you will see that Tamarisk is being attacked with chain saws, herbicides, bulldozers, and beetles.  Click to read about the introduced beetle which is proving to be effective in controlling Tamarisk.

Tamarix ramosissima
Tamarix chinensisSynonym: Tamarix ramosissima(Tamarisk)
Tamaricaceae (Tamarisk Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Streamsides. Spring, summer.
Canyon de Chelly National Monument, June 10, 2004.

Tamarix ramosissima
Tamarix chinensisSynonym: Tamarix ramosissima(Tamarisk)
Tamaricaceae (Tamarisk Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Streamsides. Spring, summer.
Canyon de Chelly National Monument, June 10, 2004.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Tamarix chinensis