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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Tamarix Ramosissima

Author
item Deloach Jr, Culver

Submitted to: CABI Crop Protection Compendium
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: March 12, 2004
Publication Date: September 17, 2004
Citation: DeLoach, C.J. 2004. Tamarix ramosissima. Crop Protection Compendium Database [CD-ROM]. Wallingford, UK: CAB International.

Interpretive Summary: Several species of saltcedars (also commonly called tamarisks) in the plant genus Tamarix, that are shrubs or small trees native in Asia, southern Europe and North Africa, have been introduced into the United States, beginning in 1823, as ornamentals, and in the West as windbreaks and to control streambank erosion. Two species, Tamarix ramosissima and T. chinensis and hybrids between them, together with T. canariensis and occasionally T. gallica along the Texas coast and their hybrids with the first two species (all of which are indistinguishable in the field), have escaped cultivation to become major weedy pests in riverbottoms and lakeshores of the western United States and northern Mexico. This chapter provides basic information on their description and relationships; spread and present distribution; biology, ecology and types of habitats occupied; damage caused and beneficial values; control methods including manual, mechanical, herbicidal, and especially biological; and risks of further introduction and dispersal. These saltcedars displace large areas of highly valuable native plant communities, seriously degrade wildlife habitat including that of some 50 threatened or endangered species, increase wildfires and soil salinity, reduce recreational values in parks and natural areas, and use great quantities of groundwater and stream flow critically needed for agriculture, municipalities and native plants and animals in the arid western United States and northern Mexico. The information presented here will improve the management and control of this serious weed.

Technical Abstract: Ten species of saltcedars, deciduous trees or shrubs native in the Old World, have been introduced into the United States, beginning in 1823, and a few species also into Argentina and Australia. Two species, Tamarix ramosissima and T. chinensis, have become major invaders in riparian ecosystems of the western United States and northern Mexico, with T. canariensis and T. gallica contributing to the damaging hybrid mix in Texas. This chapter follows the prescribed format of this book by discussing for each species its taxonomy, synonymy, and morphology; biology, ecology and habitat requirements; introduction, spread and present distribution; types and amounts of damages caused including environmental, and economic and beneficial values and uses; control methods including the biological control program in progress in the western United States; its natural enemies within its area of native distribution; and the risks of its further introduction and spread into uninfested areas. Emphasis is placed on the damage saltcedars cause by their great consumptive water usage, increased wildfires and soil salinity, displacement of native riparian plant communities and the consequent effects on the decline of wildlife species, including some 51 threatened and endangered species, and the unique interactions between the biological control program and the endangered southwestern subspecies of the willow flycatcher (Empidonax trailii extimus) that utilize saltcedars in Arizona and a few other sites. This chapter provides a guide to the current knowledge of all aspects of invasive saltcedars, including their taxonomy, biology and ecology, ecosystem damages, loss of water resources, and control, especially of the emerging success of the ongoing biological control program.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
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