Tamarix aphylla (athel)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Air Temperature
- Rainfall Regime
- Soil Tolerances
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Vectors
- Plant Trade
- Impact Summary
- Environmental Impact
- Impact: Biodiversity
- Social Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Wood Products
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Tamarix aphylla (L.) Karst. (1882)
Preferred Common Name
Other Scientific Names
- Tamarix aphylla (L.) Lanza (1909) comb. illegit.
- Tamarix aphylla (L.) Warb. (1929) comb. illegit.
- Tamarix articulata Vahl (1791) nom. illegit.
- Tamarix orientalis Forsk. (1775)
- Thuja aphylla L. (1838)
International Common Names
- English: athel pine; athel tamarisk; athel tree; desert tamarisk; evergreen athel; flowering cypress; saltcedar; tamarisk
- Spanish: pinebete
Local Common Names
- Germany: Blattlose Tamariske
- India: asreli; erraerusaru; errashirisaru; eshel; farash; jhau; kharbi; kharlei; laljhav; lal-jhav-nu-jhado; narbi; narlei; okan; pharwan; rahta; raktajhav; shivappu-atru-shavukka; tarfa; ukon
- Pakistan: asreli; farash; jhau; kharbi; laljhav; narbi; okan; pharwan; rahta; ukon
- South Africa: woestyntamarisk
- TAAAP (Tamarix aphylla)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page T. aphylla can produce numerous seeds that can be spread over a wide area by wind and water. The relatively low rate of T. aphylla invasion in North America was probably related to low seed production. However, the recently discovered sexual reproduction and aggressive invasion at Lake Mead, Nevada (possibly of a hybrid form), makes T. aphylla a threat in other areas of the desert in southwestern USA (Barnes et al., 2004) and northern Mexico. This species has spread rapidly and become a very serious weed along several hundred metres of the Finke River in arid central Australia (Griffin et al., 1989).
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Tamaricales
- Family: Tamaricaceae
- Genus: Tamarix
- Species: Tamarix aphylla
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page The Old World genus Tamarix belongs to the family Tamaricaceae. According to the latest revision by B. R. Baum published in 1978 (cited in Mabberley, 1997), it comprises 54 species, although other authors have accepted up to 90 species.
DescriptionTop of page See the datasheet on T. ramosissima for a description of the genus.
T. aphylla is a large (to 20 m tall with a trunk to 1 m or more in diameter) evergreen tree to high shrub. It generally attains small height and large girth. A variable height of the tree has been reported in the literature; 8-12 m (National Academy of Sciences, 1980) and 18 m height and girth of 1.8-2.1 m, occasionally attaining 3-3.5 m girth (Troup, 1921; Brandis, 1924). The tree is not very long-lived. It tapers rapidly and is heavily branched, but its crown does not spread widely.
It has slender, cylindric, jointed branches which are articulate at the base of the sheath. The bark is reddish-brown to grey and the slender twigs are often hoary with deep punctate glands that produce a saline efflorescence. The salty 'tears' drip in the night and the soil beneath trees is generally covered with a salt layer (Troup, 1921; National Academy of Sciences, 1980).
The foliage is fine bluish-grey or greyish-blue and superficially resembles long pine needles or Casuarina foliage. The leaves are small (about 2 mm long) and reduced to tiny scales that ensheath the wiry twigs and are well equipped to withstand desiccation (Troup, 1921). The lamina is reduced to a minute triangular tooth that is marked with glands. The tree is never totally leafless.
The flowers are loosely arranged on the slender spikes. They are small, usually white, occasionally pink, unisexual or bisexual, monoecious or dioecious, sessile and delicate. They are scattered on long, slender spikes which are usually clustered at the end of branches in loose racemose panicles, bracts sheathing. Vernal inflorescences simple, aestival ones compound and more common. Raceme 3-6 cm long, 4-5 mm broad, with sub-sessile flowers. Bracts triangular to broadly triangular, acuminate, somewhat clasping, longer than pedicels. Pedicel much shorter than calyx. Calyx pentamerous. Sepals ca. 1.5 mm long, entire, obtuse, the two outer slightly smaller, broadly ovate to broadly elliptic, slightly keeled, the inner slightly larger, broadly elliptic to sub-orbicular. Corolla pentamerous, sub-persistent to caducous. Petals 2-2.25 mm long, elliptic-oblong to ovate-elliptic. Androecium haplostemonous, of five antesepalous stamens; filaments inserted between the lobes of the nectary disc (hololophic) (Baum, 1978).
Fruit is a small, bell-shaped sessile capsule, and ripens in the cold season. The capsules contain minute seeds with tufts of long, soft, woolly hairs. Ripe capsules turn brown and open up gradually to allow the minute seeds to be dispersed by the wind.
Plant TypeTop of page Broadleaved
DistributionTop of page The native range of T. aphylla extends over the Middle East, North, East and Central Africa, and parts of West and South Asia (Brandis, 1924; Bailey, 1960). The species is thought to have originated in the Central Sahara, from where it spread to Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Egypt and North Africa, as well as to Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia (National Academy of Sciences, 1980; Qaiser 1981).
In North America, it occurs south of the freeze zone in the southern parts of California, Arizona and Texas, or roughly south of the 34th parallel from California through New Mexico and below the 30th parallel in south Texas. It extends into northern Mexico approximately to the 24th parallel. Griffin et al. (1989) gives the distribution of T. aphylla in Australia.
Distribution TableTop of page
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Planted||Reference||Notes|
|Algeria||Present, Widespread||Native||Baum (1978)|
|Egypt||Present, Widespread||Native||Planted||Baum (1978)|
|Eritrea||Present||Native||Planted||CABI (Undated b)|
|Ethiopia||Present, Widespread||Native||Planted||Baum (1978)|
|Kenya||Present, Few occurrences||Native||Planted||Baum (1978)|
|Libya||Present, Widespread||Native||Baum (1978)|
|Morocco||Present, Widespread||Native||Baum (1978); Dembner (1987)|
|Somalia||Present, Widespread||Native||Baum (1978); Calimini et al. (1987)|
|South Africa||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Henderson (2001)|
|Sudan||Present, Localized||Native||Planted||Baum (1978)|
|Tanzania||Present, Few occurrences||Native||Baum (1978)|
|Tunisia||Present, Localized||Native||Planted||Baum (1978)|
|Western Sahara||Present||Native||Planted||CABI (Undated b)|
|Afghanistan||Present, Few occurrences||Native||Planted||Baum (1978)|
|India||Present, Widespread||Native||Gamble (1921); CABI (Undated)|
|-Chandigarh||Present||Native||Planted||CABI (Undated b)|
|-Delhi||Present||Native||Planted||CABI (Undated b)|
|-Haryana||Present||Native||Planted||CABI (Undated b)|
|-Madhya Pradesh||Present, Localized||Native||Baum (1978)|
|-Punjab||Present||Native||Planted||CABI (Undated b)|
|-Rajasthan||Present||Native||Planted||CABI (Undated b)|
|-Uttar Pradesh||Present, Localized||Native||Planted||Baum (1978)|
|Iran||Present, Widespread||Native||Planted||Baum (1978)|
|Iraq||Present, Widespread||Native||Planted||Baum (1978)|
|Israel||Present, Localized||Introduced||Planted||Baum (1978)|
|Jordan||Present, Localized||Native||Planted||Baum (1978)|
|Oman||Present||CABI (Undated b)|
|Pakistan||Present, Widespread||Native||Baum (1978); Sheikh (1993); CABI (Undated);|
|-Gaza Strip||Present||CABI (Undated b)|
|Qatar||Present||Native||CABI (Undated b)|
|Saudi Arabia||Present||Native||Planted||USDA-ARS (2005)|
|Syria||Present||Native||Planted||CABI (Undated b)|
|Yemen||Present, Localized||Native||Baum (1978)|
|Cyprus||Present||Introduced||Planted||CABI (Undated b)|
|Mexico||Present, Localized||Introduced||Scudday (1989); CABI (Undated)|
|Puerto Rico||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS (2005)|
|United States||Present||CABI (Undated a)||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Arizona||Present, Localized||Introduced||Baum (1967)|
|-California||Present, Localized||Introduced||Baum (1967); Luken and Thieret (1997)|
|-Hawaii||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Cronk and Fuller (1995)|
|-Texas||Present, Localized||Introduced||Baum (1967)|
|Australia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Griffin et al. (1989); Cronk and Fuller (1995)|
|-New South Wales||Present, Localized||Introduced||Invasive||Agriculture & Resource Management Council (2000)|
|-Northern Territory||Present, Localized||Introduced||Invasive||Griffin et al. (1989); Agriculture & Resource Management Council (2000)|
|-Queensland||Present, Localized||Introduced||Invasive||Agriculture & Resource Management Council (2000)|
|-South Australia||Present, Localized||Introduced||Invasive||Griffin et al. (1989); Agriculture & Resource Management Council (2000)|
|-Western Australia||Present, Localized||Introduced||Invasive||Agriculture & Resource Management Council (2000)|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page Being xerophytic in nature, T. aphylla is widely planted in arid areas in many countries of Africa and Asia (Troup 1921; National Academy of Sciences, 1980).
In recent years, athel pine spread rapidly and became a very serious weed along the Finke River in central Australia, reportedly after flooding several years ago (Griffin et al., 1989; Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992). The sources of this infestation were traced to plantings at homesteads near the river. According to Agriculture & Resource Management Council (2000) the Griffin et al. (1989) research led to the declaration of this species as a noxious weed under the Northern Territory Noxious Weeds Act (1962) in 1988. It is prohibited from Western Australia, a declared plant in Tasmania, a class B or C noxious weed in Australian Northern Territory and is also mentioned in the South Australia list (National Weeds Strategy Executive Committee, 2003). Invasion events in Australia include outbreaks at the Finke River, Northern Territory, Starvation Lake and Tilcha Flow, South Australia, the Gascoyne and Avon Rivers in Western Australia and lesser occurrences in localized areas of Queensland (Agriculture & Resource Management Council, 2000). Binggeli (1999) describes T. aphylla as 'highly invasive'.
T. aphylla has been widely planted in the southwestern USA and northern Mexico but has increased and spread only in a few locations. The largest is a 285 ha area of a large, dense, monotypic stand of trees beside the southeastern corner of the Salton Sea in southern California, rumoured to have spread from two trees planted at a gas station. Along the lower Colorado River between California and Arizona, and along the lower Rio Grande between Texas and Mexico, it occurs among saltcedars (deciduous Tamarix spp.) and other vegetation, or on sparsely vegetated stream banks where it appears to have spread naturally. Recently, athel has spread extensively along the shores of Lake Mead, between Nevada and Arizona at ca. 36°N. This is at a latitude much farther north and much colder than athel would be expected to grow. Its growth and survival here may be because of the warming influence of this large lake during the winter. Also, these plants may be a hybrid which could confer greater cold tolerance. The recently discovered sexual reproduction and aggressive invasion at Lake Mead makes T. aphylla a threat in other areas of the desert in southwestern USA (Barnes et al., 2004) and possibly also in northern Mexico. According to (USDA-NRCS, 2005) this species is a declared noxious weed in Wyoming, Washington, Montana and New Mexico.
Henderson (2001) states it is a proposed category 3 invader in South Africa. Cronk and Fuller (1995) reports that it is invasive in Australia and Hawaii.
Risk of IntroductionTop of page The high degree of invasiveness demonstrated by this species in Australia, and in other countries such as South Africa and the USA would encourage caution in the use of this species in similar environmental circumstances elsewhere. Where it has already been introduced, its behaviour should be monitored to gain new insights into its ecology and behaviour, and to detect the earliest signs of invasion. The major risk is probably from the introduction of cuttings by tourists for planting as ornamentals.
HabitatTop of page T. aphylla, like the deciduous Tamarix species that have become invasive where introduced, grows mainly in riparian habitats: in broad floodplains of rivers, along permanent or intermittent streams, around lakes and reservoirs, and at a depth to water table of 1-5 m; it can also grow (less densely) on upland areas or with its roots out of contact with the water table. It can grow in a wide variety of soils, and in both saline and fresh soils. It does not prefer saline soils but can tolerate salinity, giving it a competitive advantage over most plants which cannot.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Present, no further details|
|Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Present, no further details|
|Disturbed areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Rail / roadsides||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Urban / peri-urban areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Natural grasslands||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Riverbanks||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Wetlands||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Deserts||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Coastal areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Biology and EcologyTop of page Genetics
T. aphylla is one of only four invasive taxonomic entities that Gaskin and Schaal (2003) could identify by DNA analysis.
Physiology and Phenology
The leaves and branches are shed during the cold season, and new shoots and leaves appear in India during May. According to Troup (1921), the small flowers of T. aphylla appear during May to September on long slender spikes and the capsules ripen in December-January. In some parts of the Punjab and Haryana in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent, the seed ripens from the middle of July to the middle of November.
In its native range, germination is generally good and natural regeneration is fairly plentiful. The seedlings establish themselves as a jungle-like growth of wildings in low-lying areas or hollows where rainwater collects. The seed loses viability in a few days if stored at ambient temperature.
Providing there is sufficient moisture seeds can germinate almost year-round in Australia (Agriculture & Resource Management Council, 2000). This source notes that most germination occurs during the Australian autumn.
In its native range, T. aphylla produces a large number of seeds, i.e. about 500,000 seeds/year from a single tree (National Academy of Sciences, 1980; Sheikh, 1993). The seeds are minute, about 1000 per gram. A moist soil will also permit vegetative reproduction.
Athel has long been presumed to be sterile in North America and to reproduce only vegetatively. However, the recently invasive population at Lake Mead in southern Nevada, USA, produced seeds over an average of 51 days, with a germination rate of 22% in the laboratory. The trees occupy a zone along the lakeshore above T. ramosissima and below Larrea tridentata where it now forms extensive monospecific stands (Barnes et al., 2004). This appears to be a hybrid population, which may give it greater cold tolerance.
T. aphylla is generally found in arid subtropical and desert regions in ravine thorn scrub forests, desert dune scrub forests and in Salvadora scrub forests. It tolerates temperatures from -10 to 50°C and frequent droughts (National Academy of Sciences, 1980). It survives in areas with annual rainfall of 75-100 mm, but for optimum growth it requires 350-500 mm rainfall which may occur in summer or in both summer and winter. It has been planted on the coasts of North Africa and Israel with annual rainfall of around 200 mm.
The best growth of T. aphylla is in loamy soil, but it is also found on sand as well as on stiff clay and on alkaline, saline and seasonally waterlogged soils (National Academy of Sciences, 1980). It has a high survival rate in saline areas (Malik and Sheikh, 1983; Tomar and Gupta, 1985; Hussain and Gul, 1991) and on saline sodic soils (Sarir et al., 1986; Sharma et al., 1992).
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Absolute minimum temperature (ºC)||-10|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||18||28|
|Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)||27||40|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||3||8|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Dry season duration||6||8||number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall|
|Mean annual rainfall||200||500||mm; lower/upper limits|
Rainfall RegimeTop of page Bimodal
Soil TolerancesTop of page
- seasonally waterlogged
Special soil tolerances
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page Large T. aphylla trees are commonly infested by the cerambycid borer Bachydissus holosericeus (Gamble, 1921). Termites attack T. aphylla trees in plantations and cause heavy mortality. Mites cause the formation of galls on the twigs, flowers and flower buds (National Academy of Sciences, 1980).
Beeson (1941) reported the following insect pests of T. aphylla in India and Pakistan: Chionaspis engeddensis (an armoured scale insect, in heavy infestations in plantations of T. aphylla in the Punjab); Trabutina serpentina (a scale insect which feeds on the sap of branchlets); Teleiodes myricariella (a small moth, the larvae of which feed on spun leaves); Cossus acronyctoides (the larvae of this moth bore into living stems). Characoma nilotia is reported to feed on the inflorescences of T. aphylla (Habib, 1980).
The insect herbivores discovered in the exploration for biological control agents were listed for Israel (Gerling and Kugler, 1973) and for Pakistan (Habib and Hassan, 1982). The buprestid Steraspis squamosa is the most damaging. Many of the insects that attack the deciduous saltcedars do not attack, or only lightly attack, T. aphylla. Few of the 325 Tamarix insects reported by Kovalev (1995) from the former USSR, China, southern Asia or the Mediterranean area are listed for T. aphylla.
The following fungi have been recorded on T. aphylla (Zaman et al., 1972): Polyporus calcutensis, Polyporus hispidus, Sirodiplospora tamarici, Teichospora obduceu and Valsaria tamaricis.
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)
T. aphylla produces a large number of seeds (about 500,000 seeds/year from a single tree) that are minute, about 1000 per gram, and are blown by the wind or dispersed in water. It can also disperse to a limited extent by the rooting of plant parts that wash downstream in floods.
Vector Transmission (Biotic)
Animal dispersal is possible (Weber, 2003).
Invasive events in Australia, USA and South Africa were associated with intentional introduction. The sale of ornamental plants by nurserymen, and the secondary spread of windblown seeds or cuttings from these plants are significant means of dispersal. Dispersal from plantings for streambank erosion control or for windbreaks has also occurred.
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|Fruits (inc. pods)||seeds||Yes|
|Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches|
|True seeds (inc. grain)||seeds|
|Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|Growing medium accompanying plants|
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Fisheries / aquaculture||Negative|
ImpactTop of page When T. aphylla is planted on farmlands, it competes with agricultural crops for sunlight because it is evergreen and its dense branching and foliage do not allow sunlight to pass through. Further, it takes up moisture and nutrients from the soil which could otherwise be utilized by crops. Water consumption of seedlings of this species is very high as compared with other tree species (Raeder-Roitzsch and Masrur, 1969). Their extensive roots also extract all soluble salts from the soil; these are excreted through the glands in the leaves onto the top of the soil in the form of litter or 'tears', thus causing salinization of top soil even in non-saline areas, reducing the growth of nearby plants up to a distance of 50 m (National Academy of Sciences, 1980).
Agriculture & Resource Management Council (2000) report major negative impacts to the central Australian pastoral industry. The impact to the pastoral industry occurs through reduced pasture production, elimination of watering holes as the water table is reduced and the difficulty of herding the animals.
Environmental ImpactTop of page Where it is invasive the root network may have the effect of lowering the water table (Weber, 2003). Its water use is probably similar to saltcedars (the weedy deciduous Tamarix spp.) for the small area it occupies (see T. ramosissima for further details). Unlike other weedy Tamarix spp., however, athel rarely burns and has been used as a firebreak in its native range (National Academy of Sciences, 1980).
Impact: BiodiversityTop of page By rapid growth, formation of dense thickets and superior competition for water and nutrients, native vegetation may be excluded, as for example in Australia, where native Eucalyptus camaldulensis is outcompeted (Weber, 2003). Only a few Australian grasses and chenopods are able to grow in association with T. aphylla (Agriculture & Resource Management Council, 2000). The change in the composition and structure of the vegetation has negative consequences for Australian birds and mammals such as the loss of nesting sites (Agriculture & Resource Management Council, 2000).
In the USA, athel has had relatively little impact on wildlife because of its infrequency. In hot areas, its size offers welcome shade for wildlife. In the surveys of Anderson and Ohmart (1984) in southern California, nearly all of the summer tanagers were found in athel. However, athel hosts even fewer native insects than does saltcedar (weedy deciduous Tamarix spp.), and populations of the accidentally introduced leafhopper Opsius stactogalus and the scale insect Chionaspis etrusca are far lower than on saltcedars. Luken and Thieret (1997) describe the drying up of springs in Death Valley National Monument, California, with a consequent fall in biodiversity.
Social ImpactTop of page No precise information available but because T. aphylla can form dense thickets it is presumed that access may be impeded.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Highly mobile locally
- Has high reproductive potential
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts tourism
- Reduced amenity values
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page T. aphylla is widely planted in arid areas in many countries of Africa and Asia (Troup 1921; National Academy of Sciences, 1980). It can be grown for the stabilization and afforestation of sand dunes (Stevens, 1974; Abohassan et al., 1978; Weinstein and Schiller, 1979) and in shelterbelts and windbreaks (Firmin, 1971; Charfi, 1975; Costin et al., 1976; Dembner, 1987; Calimini et al., 1987). It also grows very well on saline and waterlogged soils where few other trees would grow (Malik and Sheikh, 1983; Tomar and Gupta, 1985; Le-Houerou et al., 1986; Qaisar et al., 1987; Hussain and Gul, 1991; Hafeez, 1993). It is extensively planted on farmlands in the plains of Pakistan (Shah et al., 1991) and India as it can easily be grown from cuttings. Its wood is commonly used as fuel and in rural carpentry in these countries and as a medicinal plant in Pakistan (Khan et al., 2005).
It has been introduced in Australia as a windbreak, hedge plant, and ornamental tree (Griffin et al., 1989). In the desert areas of southwestern USA and northern Mexico, it has been widely planted as a shade tree; it is also sometimes planted as a hedge plant, and pruned frequently. Surveys in Arizona and Texas indicate that it has about the same value as the deciduous Tamarix species as an ornamental, about 0.25% of all yard trees (CJ DeLoach, USDA-ARS, Temple, Texas, USA, unpublished data). Today, it is seldom recommended or planted by nurseries because the limbs are brittle and can break, causing damage.
In North America, it is used less for honey production and colony maintenance than are the saltcedars (deciduous Tamarix spp.) but is preferred as shade for the beehives in the summer because of its large size and more dense shade. It is used much more for windbreaks than are saltcedars because of its larger size and evergreen foliage (Brooks and Dellberg, 1969; Lyles et al., 1984). This usage is apparently declining, because few such new locations are now apparent. In a few locations, it has been used for streambank erosion control but much less than was saltcedar, probably because it does not tend to spread and form dense thickets.
Wood ProductsTop of page
Sawn or hewn building timbers
- Carpentry/joinery (exterior/interior)
- For light construction
- Composite boards
- Industrial and domestic woodware
- Tool handles
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page T. aphylla looks superficially like a conifer and may be mistaken for Casuarina.
This species is easily distinguished from the other North American exotic T. ramosissima/T. chinensis (r/c) and T. canariensis/T. gallica (c/g) species/hybrid groups and from T. parviflora. T. aphylla is a large tree (to 20 m tall and 1 m trunk diameter), with distinct long, sparsely branched foliage resembling Casuarina foliage, flowers whitish to pinkish arranged in whorls around the rachis, evergreen, and cold intolerant. Saltcedars in the r/c and c/g species/hybrid groups are smaller (usually 2-5(-10) m tall), with foliage more branched and with bract-like leaves, pink to reddish flowers, deciduous and cold tolerant. T. parviflora is similar in these saltcedar characteristics and in addition has flowers with four petals and stamens, and typically in small inflorescences in clusters along the outer stems that appear before the leaves in the spring.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.Mechanical Control
Weber (2003) reports that small individuals may be dug out providing the roost system is removed to prevent resprouting from suckers. This author also discusses the procedure for felling mature trees, providing herbicides are applied to the remaining stumps to hinder resprouting. Agriculture & Resource Management Council (2000) describe the use of bulldozers for large trees and thickets, again with provision for removing the root system and with care to ensure that removed roots are not subsequently covered with soil (i.e. facilitating conditions for further regeneration). This source also lists a blade ploughing method for the removal of large numbers of seedlings.
Herbicide combinations such as picloram/2,4-D or triclopyr/2,4-D can be used to hinder resprouting from stumps (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992; Weber 2003). Agriculture & Resource Management Council (2000) advocate repeated stem injections of herbicide at points not more than 100 mm apart. This source also describes the treatment of basal bark with herbicide as a method particularly useful for immature trees i.e. before a tough bark has developed. Herbicide can be applied directly to the leaves of seedlings/saplings that are less than 2 m tall (Agriculture & Resource Management Council, 2000).
A biological control programme is under development for the weedy, deciduous saltcedars (Tamarix spp.) of the western USA. T. aphylla is becoming weedy at only a few locations there. It is not presently a subject for biological control, although this could change in the future if it becomes a widespread, serious weed as it has in Australia. At present, biological control insects are being selected that do not damage athel or that cause it only slight damage that does not compromise its value as a desert shade tree (of particular importance to Mexico). In cage tests at Temple, Texas, USA, the larvae of the various biotypes of Diorhabda elongata fed on athel almost as well as on saltcedars but the adults oviposited only 20-50% as much on athel. Open-field tests on athel at Kingsville, Texas and Artesia, New Mexico are in progress (A Griffith, USDA-ARS, Temple, Texas, USA, personal communication, 2004).
ReferencesTop of page
Abohassan AA; Rudolph VJ; Hyder DN, 1978. Afforestation for sand dune stabilization in Al Hassa Oasis, Saudi Arabia. Proceedings of the first international rangeland congress. Denver, Colorado, USA, August 14-18, 1978, 257-259; 2 pl.; 11 ref.
Agriculture & Resource Management Council, 2000. Weeds of National Significance: Athel Pine (Tamarix aphylla) Strategic Plan. Agriculture & Resource Management Council of Australia & New Zealand, Australian & New Zealand Environment & Conservation Council and Forest Ministers. Launceston, Australia: National Weeds Strategy Executive Committee.
Al-Kinany IA; Nazar MA, 1988. The effect of cutting height above soil and spacing between cuttings of Tamarix aphylla Vahl. on plant growth in Hamman Al-Alil. Mesopotamia Journal of Agriculture, 20(1):173-188.
Anderson BW; Ohmart RD, 1984. Vegetation management study for the enhancement of wildlife along the Lower Colorado River. Boulder City, Nevada, USA: Bureau of Reclamation, Lower Colorado Region, Contract No. 7-07-30-V0009.
Bailey LH, 1960. Manual of Cultivated Plants. New York, USA: The Macmillan Company.
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