Saltcedar image

Invasive Species of the Month: January 2012

Saltcedar (Tamarix spp.)

Also Known As


General Description

Saltcedar is a small perennial shrub or tree that is native to Africa and the Middle East. It uses large amounts of groundwater and its stem and leaves secrete salt into the soil, inhibiting the growth of other vegetation and drying up waterways. It reproduces by seeds and root fragments.

Growth Habit

Multiple large stems arise from a crown and grow 20 feet tall or more. Stems are slender, smooth, and highly branched, with reddish-brown bark. The main root can reach 90 feet deep or more.


Alternate, overlapping, scale-like leaves are 0.05–0.14 inches long, grayish-green, and turn yellowish-red in the autumn.


Tiny, pale pink to white flowers have 5 petals and occur in finger-like clusters at the branch ends. Flowering occurs between April and August.

Seeds and Fruit

Numerous tiny, cylindrical seeds have a long tuft of hairs at one end.


Saltcedar can be found in riparian areas, floodplains, wetlands, and along lakeshores, streambanks, and riverbanks. It can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions.

Additional Resources

Species Identification and Characteristics
Alberta Invasive Plants Council Fact Sheet (PDF)
CISM Saltcedar Weed Model
CISM Saltcedar Weed ID Card
Colorado Department of Agriculture Fact Sheet (PDF) Images and Overview
Montana Weed Control Association Fact Sheet
Plant Conservation Alliance Fact Sheet
Texas Invasives Fact Sheet
USDA Forest Service Fact Sheet (PDF)

Management and Control Resources

Best Management Practices for Montana, Russian Olive and Saltcedar: Montana Department of Agriculture (PDF)
CISM 2006 Tamarisk Research Conference Abstracts and Presentations (PDF)
Saltcedar MontGuide: Montana State University Extension (PDF)
USDA Forest Service Species Information
Watch Out for Saltcedar Bulletin: Montana State University Extension (PDF)


Past "Invasive Species of the Month" Profiles

saltcedar saltcedar

Photo credits: Left, Bonnie Million, National Park Service,; Right, John M. Randall, The Nature Conservancy,