Title: Tamarix aphylla (L.) Karst.

Scientific Name:

Tamarix aphylla (L.) Karst.

Common Name:

athel pine, tamarisk

Tamarix aphylla (L.) Karst.

Source & more images (via ALA)

Habitat: Semi-arid to arid warm-temperate or subtropical regions, preferably in full sun and on light to medium loams. (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001). Disturbed and undisturbed streams, waterways, bottomlands, banks and drainage channels, moist rangelands and pastures. (PAC 2005).


Present Distribution - Australia (source: ALA)   Present Distribution - USA (source: USDA)

present, no further details = Present, no further details widespread = Widespread localised = Localised
confined and subject to quarantine = Confined and subject to quarantine occasional or few reports = Occasional or few reports
evidence of pathogen = Evidence of pathogen last reported = Last reported... presence unconfirmed = Presence unconfirmed
see regional map for distribution within the country = See regional map for distribution within the country
Present Distribution - World (source: CABI)

Invasiveness Assessment


1. Germination requirements? Germinates all year round so long as moisture is available (ARMCANZ, 2000). Opportunistic germinator.

2. Establishment requirements? Requires extended periods of soil saturation for establishment (PAC, 2005). Thrives in full sun conditions (Parsons & Cuthbertson, 2001). No evidence to support that the tree can establish under moderate canopy.

3. How much disturbance is required? Generally restricted to watercourses and commonly occurs on salt flats, springs and along streams and rivers (ARMCANZ, 2000; Forest Service, 2003).


4. Life form? Evergreen tree (PAC, 2005). Other.

5. Allelopathic properties? None reported.

6. Tolerates herb pressure? Foliage has few leaf-eating insects with no known pests in Australia but does have natural pests in native habitat (Beckmann, 1990). Leaves unpalatable to livestock and wildlife (PAC, 2005).

7. Normal growth rate? Can out compete native vegetation. Seedlings establish readily and growth is also rapid. Displaces Eucalypts and other native vegetation (ARMCANZ, 2000).

8. Stress tolerance to frost, drought, w/logg, sal. etc? Can tolerate saline water. Highly fire resistant and drought resistant (ARMCANZ, 2000). Flooding can be used to control it if root crowns stay submerged for at least three months (PAC, 2005).


9. Reproductive system? Capable of both sexual and vegetative (roots or stems) production although vegetative production from broken branches is more common [than from seeds] as it is believed the seeds are only viable for a very short period of time (ARMCANZ, 2000).

10. Number of propagules produced? ‘A single [tree] may produce hundreds of thousands of seeds’ (WSDE 2004).

11. Propagule longevity? Seeds remain viable for a few weeks only (Beckmann, 1990).

12. Reproductive period? Aggressive coloniser often forming monotypic stands (WSDE, 2004).

13. Time to reproductive maturity? Start producing seeds after 2 to 3 years in reasonably good conditions (Beckmann, 1990).


14. Number of mechanisms? Light seeds well adapted to wind dispersal (ARMCANZ, 2000). Dispersed by water (especially floodwaters). May be dispersed by animals and birds (Parsons & Cuthbertson, 2001).

15. How far do they disperse? Thought to spread long distances in floodwaters and as also spread by birds (Parsons & Cuthbertson, 2001) it is very likely that some propagules will disperse greater than 1 km.

Impact Assessment


1. Restrict human access? “A small spreading tree to 10 m high. [It] branches almost from the base and can be an extremely useful breakwind and shade tree.” Well established, dense infestations may be a major impediment to humans. (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001)

2. Reduce tourism? In some infestations in Australia, it forms a monoculture. Likely to have a serious impact on aesthetics (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001).

3. Injurious to people? The plant has no known toxic or potentially injurious properties.

4. Damage to cultural sites? The root system comprises a strong woody rootstock with an extensive web of deeply penetrating secondary and succeeding roots. ‘It threatens heritage buildings by disrupting foundations and walls’. The potential to have a moderate structural effect. (Parsons and Cuthbertston 2001; ARMCANZ, 2001)


5. Impact flow? In Australia, it is naturalised along the banks of permanent and ephemeral river systems in the Northern Territory. It does not affect flow. (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001)

6. Impact water quality? Terrestrial species. (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001)

7. Increase soil erosion? “It is also useful in stabilising moving sand dunes or mullock heaps.” Deep, extensive root system. Tree provides permanent cover. Would not contribute to erosion. (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001)

8. Reduce biomass? It has replaced dominant native species (Eucalyptus carnaldulensisE. microtheca) along the Finke River N.T. Invader replaces biomass. and (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001)

9. Change fire regime? “Athel tamarisk is a fire-adapted species. The high ash content and salt content of its foliage make it hard to burn even when dry. Because of their fire-resistant qualities of Athel tamarisk foliage, it is a good species for use in fire shelterbelts.” Tesky (1992)


10(a) Impact on composition of high value EVC? EVC=Blackbox chenopod woodland (E); CMA=Goulburn Broken; Bioreg=Victorian Riverina; Climate=VH. “It…exudes large quantities of salt through the leaves, salting the surrounding soil. Athel pine displaces Eucalypts and other native vegetation with fewer native herbs persisting in areas of thick athel pine.” Major displacement of species in mid stratum. (ARMCANZ, 2001)

10(b) Impact on medium value EVC? EVC= Lignum swampy woodland (D); CMA=North Central; Bioreg=Murray Mallee; Climate=VH.

10(c) Impact on low value EVC? EVC= Riparian Forest (LC); CMA=Goulburn Broken; Bioreg=Highlands-Northern =Fall; Climate=VH.

11. Impact on structure? In some infestations in Australia, it forms a monoculture. Serious impact in all strata (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001).

12. Effect on threatened flora? This species is not documented as posing an additional risk to threatened flora.


13. Effect on threatened fauna? This species is not documented as posing an additional risk to threatened fauna.

14. Effect on non-threatened fauna? “…the replacement of the native trees not only reduces bird abundance, it also changes the structure of bird communities. Reptiles…were also affected.” Reduces habitat leading to a reduction in numbers (Beckmann, 1990).

15. Benefits fauna? No known benefits. Dense growth may provide shelter for small bird species (Beckmann, 1990).

16. Injurious to fauna? No known toxic principles. “Athel tamarisk foliage contains phenolic acids which may prevent herbivory.” (Tesky, 1992)


17. Food source to pests? Not known as food source to pests. See comment in Q16 above.

18. Provides harbor? Not known to provide harbor.


19. Impact yield? Where it has occurred along the Finke River N.T., it has, “…considerably reduced the available grazing area.” Potential to have a major impact on the quantity of yield by reducing carrying capacity. (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001)

20. Impact quality? Not a weed of cropping. Plants take 2 to 3 years to flower. No burrs; plants are not grazed. (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001)

21. Affect land values? Primarily a weed of natural ecosystems. Unlikely to affect the value of grazing land.

22. Change land use? Primarily a weed of natural ecosystems. Change in land use not required.

23. Increase harvest costs? Not a weed of cropping.

24. Disease host/vector? None evident


Do you have additional information about this plant that will improve the quality of the assessment? If so, we would value your contribution.

Assessment ratings originally made by the Victorian Department of Primary Industries.
The entry of this assessment was made possible through the generous support of The Weed's Network.

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Date: September 21, 2009; 3:33:52 PM EST
Author Name: David Low
Author ID: admin