Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Tamarix parviflora
(small-flower tamarisk)



Tamarix parviflora (small-flower tamarisk)


  • Last modified
  • 19 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Tamarix parviflora
  • Preferred Common Name
  • small-flower tamarisk
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • T. parviflora shares many of the inherent physiological characters that make the weedy Tamarix spp. adapted to natural or modified riparian ecosystems and make them appear to be more aggressive and better adapted to the invaded native ecosystems of w...
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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Tamarix parviflora DC. (1828)

Preferred Common Name

  • small-flower tamarisk

Other Scientific Names

  • Tamarix cretica Bge.
  • Tamarix laxa var. subspicata Ehrenb. (1827)
  • Tamarix lucronensis Sennen & Elias (1928)
  • Tamarix parviflora var. cretica (Bge.) Boiss. (1867)
  • Tamarix petteri Presl ex Bge. (1852)
  • Tamarix rubella Batt. (1907)

International Common Names

  • English: saltcedar; salt-cedar; tamarisk
  • Spanish: pinebete
  • French: tamaris à petites fleurs

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Tamariske, Frühlings-; Tamariske, Kleinblütige
  • Israel: ashel
  • Italy: tamarice a piccolo fiori

EPPO code

  • TAAPA (Tamarix parviflora)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page T. parviflora shares many of the inherent physiological characters that make the weedy Tamarix spp. adapted to natural or modified riparian ecosystems and make them appear to be more aggressive and better adapted to the invaded native ecosystems of western North America than are the native plant communities (DeLoach et al., 2000). They have an extremely high reproduction rate, the ability to produce seeds over a very long time period (throughout the growing season), very efficient means of seed dispersal, the ability to reproduce vegetatively as well as by seed, and mechanisms for rapid seed germination and seedling establishment. T. parviflora is apparently somewhat less aggressive than some of the other Tamarix species, but has proved invasive locally in the USA and is listed as a federal noxious weed in the USA (USDA-NRCS, 2005).

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Tamaricales
  •                         Family: Tamaricaceae
  •                             Genus: Tamarix
  •                                 Species: Tamarix parviflora

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page The weedy species of Tamarix in North America, all deciduous, small trees or shrubs, belong to a complex of four very similar species: T. ramosissima, T. chinensis, T. canariensis and, occasionally, T. gallica, plus the distinct T. parviflora, and their hybrids. The distinctive, large tree, athel (T. aphylla) is also becoming weedy at a few locations (Barnes et al., 2004). Four other species have been introduced that are known only as ornamentals or that have become weakly naturalized (Baum, 1967; Crins, 1989). Although there are difficulties in separating some species pairs in this genus, especially T. ramosissima/T. chinensis and T. gallica/T. canariensis, T. parviflora is quite distinct genetically and morphologically from other weedy Tamarix species (Baum, 1968; Gaskin and Schaal, 2002, 2003).

Further details of Tamarix taxonomy can be found in the datasheet on T. ramosissima.

Baum (1978) notes the fine morphological distinctions between T. parviflora and T. tetrandra Pall. ex M. Bieb, however, Zielinski (1994) considers T. parviflora a probable junior synonym of T. tetrandra. They are treated as separate species by USDA-ARS (2005).

The common name 'saltcedar' derives from the superficial resemblance of the leaves to Juniperus which is commonly called 'cedar' in the USA and the salt glands that excrete excess salts from saline ground water taken up by the roots. It is frequently used for all the weedy, decidous, small trees or shrubs of Tamarix (including T. parviflora) in the USA and Mexico. The large, evergreen T. aphylla is often distinguished by using the common name 'athel'.


Top of page See the datasheet on T. ramosissima for a description of the genus.

T. parviflora is a low tree or shrub, 2-3 m high (to 5 m in the USA), with brown to deep purple bark, entirely glabrous. Leaves sessile with narrow base, 2-2.5 mm long. Vernal inflorescences simple, aestival inflorescences rare. Racemes 1.5-4 cm long, 3-5 mm broad, densely flowered. Bracts triangular-acuminate, blunt, boat-shaped, almost completely diaphanous (not herbaceous), longer than pedicels. Pedicel much shorter than calyx. Calyx tetramerous. Sepals connate (connected) at the base, erose-denticulate, 1.25-1.5 mm long, the outer two trullate-ovate, acute and keeled, the inner ovate, obtuse. Corolla tetramerous, sub-persistent. Petals parabolic, ovate, 2 mm long, subentire or faintly erose, pink. Androecium a single whorl of four antesepalous stamens (inserted opposite the sepals); filaments inserted on the lobes of the nectary disc (synlophic). Flowering: March to June (Baum, 1978).

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated


Top of page T. parviflora is native in the Mediterranean area. In the USA it is most abundant in central California, but occurs less frequently in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah and, rarely, in Texas. It also is found less commonly in other states (USDA-NRCS, 2005). It also occurs along the Afton River in Australia (John Gaskin, USDA-ARS, Sidney, MT, personal communication, 2004).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes


IsraelPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2005
TurkeyWidespreadNative Not invasive Natural Baum, 1978


AlgeriaRestricted distributionNative Not invasive Natural Baum, 1978

North America

USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-ArizonaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Baum, 1967
-CaliforniaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Baum, 1967
-ColoradoPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-ConnecticutPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-DelawarePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-FloridaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-IdahoPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-IllinoisPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-KansasPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-MassachusettsPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-MichiganPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-MississippiPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-MissouriPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-MontanaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-NevadaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-New JerseyPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-New MexicoPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Invasive Baum, 1967
-North CarolinaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-OklahomaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-OregonPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-TennesseePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-TexasPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Invasive Baum, 1967
-UtahPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-VirginiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005
-WashingtonPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2005


AlbaniaRestricted distributionNative Not invasive Baum, 1978
CroatiaRestricted distributionNative Not invasive Baum, 1978
FrancePresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-CorsicaRestricted distributionNative Not invasive Natural Baum, 1978
GreeceWidespreadNative Not invasive Natural Baum, 1978
-CretePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2005
ItalyRestricted distributionNative Not invasive Natural Baum, 1978
SerbiaRestricted distributionNative Not invasive Baum, 1978
SlovakiaPresentKment, 2004
SloveniaRestricted distributionNative Not invasive Baum, 1978
SpainRestricted distributionNative Not invasive Natural Baum, 1978
SwitzerlandPresentGermann and Moretti, 2009
Yugoslavia (former)Present Natural

History of Introduction and Spread

Top of page Information was not found on the introduction and spread of T. parviflora as separate from the other Tamarix species. See the datasheet on T. ramosissima.

Risk of Introduction

Top of page The major risk is from the introduction of cuttings by tourists for planting ornamentals, although the interception of cuttings by the port inspectors may be efficient.


Top of page T. parviflora, being a facultative phreatophyte, 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 List

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Terrestrial – ManagedManaged 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-naturalNatural 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 Ecology

Top of page T. parviflora is one of only four invasive taxonomic entities that Gaskin and Schaal (2003) could identify by DNA analysis.

The biology and ecology of T. parviflora has been little studied separately from the other Tamarix species but is probably similar to those (see the datasheet on T. ramosissima). It is less invasive than T. ramosissima which may be related to its limited period of blooming (only in the spring).

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) -20 50
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 38


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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration1260number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall751000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

Top of page Uniform

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • impeded
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • saline
  • shallow
  • sodic

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Pectrosema nigrum Herbivore Stems

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page Psectrosema nigrum (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) forms small stem galls on T. parviflora and T. gallica in southern France (Gagné et al., 1996). No other published field records of arthropods attacking T. parviflora have been found, although many of the literature records refer only to Tamarix sp. (e.g. Kovalev, 1995). Natural enemies of T. ramosissima have been studied in more detail and it is likely that some of these will also attack T. parviflora (see the datasheet on T. ramosissima).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

Saltcedars disperse naturally and very efficiently by means of the huge quantity of small windblown or waterborne seeds. They also can disperse to a limited extent by the rooting of plant parts that wash downstream in floods.

Agricultural Practices

Saltcedars seldom grow in agricultural fields where they might be dispersed with baled hay, with seeds crops etc.; also the seeds would probably be blown out by combines harvesting crop seeds but these seeds probably only rarely or never establish.

Intentional Introduction

After dispersal by wind and water, the next greatest means of dispersal is probably the sale of ornamental plants by nurserymen, and the secondary spread of windblown seeds or cuttings from these plants. Dispersal from plantings for streambank erosion control or for windbreaks also has occurred.

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Clothing, footwear and possessionsSmuggled flowers, cuttings Yes
Containers and packaging - woodCuttings, whole plants Yes

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Fruits (inc. pods) seeds Yes
Leaves whole plants
Roots whole plants
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
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants

Impact Summary

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Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) Negative
Crop production Negative
Environment (generally) Negative
Fisheries / aquaculture Negative
Forestry production Negative
Human health None
Livestock production Negative
Native fauna Negative
Native flora Negative
Rare/protected species Negative
Tourism Negative
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None


Top of page Most impacts for T. parviflora are similar, but of somewhat less effect, than for T. ramosissima (see the separate datasheet) because it appears to be less aggressively invasive. However, T. parviflora occurs in dense stands in central California, USA, and so the impacts are serious in the area infested.

Impact: Biodiversity

Top of page The list of indigenous and introduced plants that are displaced by saltcedar invasions in riparian areas of the western USA and northern Mexico includes amongst others Atriplex lentiformis, Baccharis salicifolia, Populus spp., Prosopis spp. and Salix spp. The invasion and domination of native riparian plant communities most often follows the recession of flood waters or wildfires, which kill the native plants, and then allows the saltcedar seedlings to establish without competition.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top 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
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts tourism
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Reduced native biodiversity
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Difficult/costly to control


Top of page T. parviflora is frequently planted as an ornamental because of its showy, pink flowers in the spring. It has apparently been little planted as windbreaks or for streambank erosion control exept in central California, especially along Cache Creek and Bear Creek.

The datasheet on T. ramosissima contains further information that applies to saltcedars generally.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page T. parviflora 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 by having only four stamens, four petals and four lobes of the basal disc of the flowers, whereas the r/c and c/g species groups have pentamerous flowers. Also, the racemes of T. parviflora are shorter and arranged in dense inflorescences that occur in clusters along the upper stems, whereas the racemes of the r/c and c/g groups are longer and the inflorescences are much larger, much more open and paniculately branched, and usually are located on the branch terminals. T. parviflora is very distinct from T. aphylla which is a large evergreen tree, to 20 m tall and 1 m trunk diameter, with long, sparsely branched terminal twigs with closely adpressed, vaginate leaves, superficially appearing like long pine needles or Casuarina foliage, white flowers arranged in a spiral on the raceme, and is cold intolerant, being killed by a moderate freeze. Baum (1968) provides a useful key the European species of Tamarix, including T. parviflora, while Gaskin and Schaal (2003) include useful drawings of the leaves and nectary disc of this species.

Prevention and Control

Top of page For details of the control measures that apply to the group of weedy, deciduous saltcedars in the USA, see the datasheet on T. ramosissima. The biological control programme in California, covers T. parviflora.


Top of page

Barnes PL; Walker LR; Powell EA, 2004. Tamarix aphylla: A newly invasive tree in southern Nevada. Proceedings of the Ecological Society of America Meeting, Portland, Oregon, 1-6 August 2004. Abstracts, 31.

Baum B, 1968. 2. Tamarix L. In: Tutin TG, Heywood VH, Burges NA, Moore DM, Valentine DH, Walters SM, Webb DA, eds, Flora Europaea, Volume 2. Rosaceae to Umbelliferae. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 292-294.

Baum BR, 1967. Introduced and naturalized tamarisks in the United States and Canada (Tamaricaceae). Baileya, 15:19-25.

Baum BR, 1978. The Genus Tamarix. Jerusalem, Israel: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Crins WJ, 1989. The Tamaricaceae in the southeastern United States. Journal of the Arnold Arboretum, 70:403-425.

DeLoach CJ; Carruthers RI; Lovich JE; Dudley TL; Smith SD, 2000. Ecological interactions in the biological control of saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) in the United States: toward a new understanding. In: Spencer NR, ed. Proceedings of the X International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds, 4-14 July 1999, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, USA, 819-873.

DiTomaso JM, 1996. Saltcedar: biology, ecology and identification. Saltcedar Management and Riparian Restoration Workshop, Las Vegas, Nevada, Sepember 1996.

GagnT RJ; Sobhian R; Isidoro N, 1996. A review of the genus Psectrosema (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae), Old World pests of tamarix (Tamaricaceae), and description of three new species. Israel Journal of Entomology, 30:53-69; 33 ref.

Gaskin JF; Schaal BA, 2002. Hybrid Tamarix widespread in U.S. invasion and undetected in native Asian range. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 99(17):11256-11259; 26 ref.

Gaskin JF; Schaal BA, 2003. Molecular phylogenetic investigation of U.S. invasive Tamarix. Systematic Botany, 28(1):86-95; 43 ref.

Germann C; Moretti M, 2009. Hypophyes pallidulus (Gravenhorst, 1807) - direct evidence in tamarisk in the Tessin (Switzerland) (Coleoptera, Curculionoidea, Nanophyidae). (Hypophyes pallidulus (Gravenhorst, 1807) - direkter Nachweis an Tamariske im Tessin (Coleoptera, Curculionoidea, Nanophyidae).) Entomo Helvetica, No.2:105-109.

Kment P, 2004. First records of two species of the genus Tuponia Reuter, 1875 (Heteroptera, Miridae) in Slovakia. Biologia (Bratislava), 59(2):164.

Kovalev OV, 1995. Co-evolution of the tamarisks (Tamaricaceae) and pest arthropods (Insecta; Arachnida: Acarina), with special reference to biological control prospects. Co-evolution of the tamarisks (Tamaricaceae) and pest arthropods (Insecta; Arachnida: Acarina), with special reference to biological control prospects., vii + 109 pp.; [^italic~Proceedings of the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences at St Petersburg^roman~ vol. 259]; 12 ref.

USDA-ARS, 2005. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.

USDA-NRCS, 2005. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center.

Zielinski J, 1994. Tamarix L. In: Browicz K, ed. Chorology of Trees and Shrubs in South-west Asia and Adjacent Regions, Volume 10. Poznan, Poland: Bogucki Wydawnictwo Naukowe.

Links to Websites

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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS) source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Distribution Maps

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