The Invasive Saltcedar

sc_1Tamarisk, better known as Saltcedar, is an extremely aggressive and invasive foreign plant. Saltcedar was originally introduced to the United States as an ornamental shrub. Saltcedar grows rapidly and can reach heights of up to 26 feet. The Saltcedar also reproduces quickly; it can flower during its first year and, at maturity, produce 600,000 seeds annually. Its adaptability and resilience to harsh elements allows the Saltcedar to aggressively colonize. All of these traits combine to make an invasive plant.

Recognizing a Saltcedar

sc_bloomingThough it looks similar to an evergreen, the Saltcedar is a deciduous tree (or shrub) with small scale-like leaves. Its light pink flowers form dense masses at the top of its long slender branches. The Saltcedar’s fast-growing roots spread deep and wide causing damage to nearby sidewalks and walls. Due to its rapid and successful reproduction, the Saltcedar escapes controlled cultivation easily and germinates in unwanted areas. It also consumes large quantities of water, up to 200 gallons per day, and deposits salt to form a saline crust to prevent other plant life from thriving in its vicinity.

Eradication

Getting rid of the Saltcedar is no easy feat. It is resistant to fire, flooding and most weed control methods. A Certified Arborist or Arizona Office of Pest Management (OPM) Licensed Pest Applicator can eliminate the Saltcedar by cutting it to the ground and applying an herbicide to the stump. A list of Certified Arborists can be found at http://www.treecareindustry.org/index.aspx and Licensed Pest Applicators can be found by visiting the OPM website, http://www.sb.state.az.us/EmployeeDir.php.