Feb 10, 200608:02 AMThe Life
Desert flora: tamarisk (saltcedar)
Feb 10, 2006 - 08:02 AMThe next time you're cruising eastbound on Interstate 10 toward the Agua Caliente Casino, take a look at the feathery green foliage which lines both sides of the freeway between Date Palm Drive and Ramon Road. Aren't those fluffy trees cute?
Think again, Scallion Breath. Each of those tamarisk plants has a deep tap-root that may extend downwards 100 feet or more, with lateral roots that sometimes reach out 150 feet. They suck up hundreds of gallons of water, draining vital resources from other desert plants. During daytime heat, the tamarisk secretes salt, a process which wastes even more water. Then, during the night, the salt absorbs water from the air.
Tamarisks increase the frequency, intensity and effect of fires and floods. They can survive prolonged submersion, as well as lengthy periods of extreme drought. How ya gonna get rid of 'em?!
The Southeast may suffer under the onslaught of kudzu, but we have our own cross of tamarisk to bear.