Tamarisk (Salt-cedar; Tamarix)
Family: Tamaricaceae – Tamarisk Family
The non-native Tamarix chinensis (Tamarisk or Salt cedar) is the only species from this family represented at Arches National Park.
Shrubs or small tree to 19.8' (6 m) tall; bark reddish brown; intricate branching
Leaves: alternate; scalelike; entire
Flowers: 5 fragrant white to pink or lavender petals borne in elongated clusters; 5 sepals; stamens usually as many as or twice as many as the petals; 1 pistil; petals 0.04” to 0.072” (1 to 1.8 mm) long
Blooms in Arches National Park: April, May, June, July, August, September
Habitat in Arches National Park: widespread cultivated tree that escaped along seeps and riparian areas
Location seen: Wolfe Ranch, Colorado River, Hwy. 128, Hwy. 279
Other: The genus name, “Tamarix”, is named for the Tamaris River in Spain and the species name, “chinensis”, means “of China” which refers to its Eurasian distribution.
This plant from Eurasia was planted intentionally to control erosion. It reached Utah sometime following the turn of the century. It was well established by the 1920's along the Colorado River and its tributaries. It spreads so rapidly and so extensively that there is little hope of eradicating it.
Did You Know?
In the late 1800s, John Wesley Wolfe, a disabled Civil War veteran, and his son, Fred, built a homestead in what is now Arches National Park. A weathered log cabin, root cellar, and corral remain as evidence of the primitive ranch they operated for more than 10 years.