Saltcedar, or tamarisk, is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing 12 to15 feet in height and forming dense thickets. Saltcedar is characterized by slender branches and gray-green foliage. The bark of young branches is smooth and reddish-brown. As the plants age, the bark becomes brownish-purple, ridged and furrowed. Leaves are scale-like, less than ⅛ inch long, and overlap each other along the stem. Leaves are usually encrusted with salt secretions. From March to September, large numbers of pink to white flowers appear in dense masses on 2-inch-long spikes at the tips of branches.
Type and Class of Livestock: Goats (especially wethers). Not recommended for sheep and cattle.
Grazing Objective: Severe defoliation to deplete root reserves and prevent establishment of new plants.
Growth Stage for Treatment: Goats have a preference for young shoots, but will readily browse shoots that are up to four years old. Repeated browsing during the season is needed to limit resprouting and to remove new seedlings.
Potential Effectiveness: Browsing of saltcedar is effective to reduce size and density of trees and potentially eliminate saltcedar from specific sites. Goats must consume most or all resprouts and seedlings for at least three to five years. Goats can effectively control and ultimately eliminate saltcedar. They will browse sprouts after mature plants are cut and/or burned. Maintaining a healthy perennial grass understory to prevent seedling establishment is key to long-term management of saltcedar infestations.
Brotherson, J.D. and D. Field. 1987. Tamarix: Impacts of a successful weed. Rangelands 9:110-112. Available at: http://rangelands.libarary.arizona.edu/rangelands/ Accessed 16 July 2007.
Grubb, R.T., R.L. Sheley, and R.D. Carlstrom. 2004. Saltcedar (Tamarisk). Montana State University Extension Service. Montguide MT 199710. Available at: http://www.montana.edu/wwwpb/pubs/mt9710.pdf. Accessed 16 July 2007
USDA-National Agriculture Library. National Invasive Species Information Center. Species Profile: Saltcedar. Availalbe at: http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/plants/saltcedar.shtml. Accessed 16 July 2007.