| ||There have been reports that an invasive shrub, Tamarix ramosissima, is being sold in garden centers and nurseries throughout Alberta. These shrubs are being sold as ornamentals with the common name of “Pink Cascade”.
Tamarix ramosissima, also known as Saltcedar or Tamarisk, is an aggressive ornamental of concern throughout North America. It is listed as one of the “Dirty Dozen” by the Nature Conservancy because of the impact it has on ecosystems. It was introduced to the western United States in the late 1800s as an ornamental. It escaped cultivation and is now established in many regions of the U.S., including Washington, Idaho and Montana where it is a serious environmental concern.
Saltcedar is an ecological and environmental concern because it degrades ecosystems by changing the physical and chemical properties of that system. It is an aggressive colonizer that can form dense, monotypic stands replacing willows, cottonwoods and other native riparian vegetation. The mature plants can secrete salt from its stems and leaves that forms a crust above and below the ground that inhibits other plants. Saltcedar is also an enormous water consumer. A single, large plant can consume up to 750 litres (200 gallons) of water a day (based on environmental conditions). Saltcedar’s high water consumption further stresses native vegetation by lowering ground water levels and can dry up springs and marshy areas. Conversely, saltcedar infestations can also lead to flooding as its extensive root sytem can choke streambeds. Saltcedar can also have detrimental impacts on wildlife as saltcedar seeds and foliage provide little nutrition value for native wildlife consumption. Species diversity decreases where saltcedar infestations are found.
Saltcedar has not escaped ornamental plantings in Alberta to date but is a species that should be of significant concern to all Albertans because of the impact saltcedar can have on riparian habitats and other ecosystems. Work is already being done to monitor saltcedar along many of Alberta’s watercourses in an effort to prevent it from becoming established. All Albertans can help by not planting potentially invasive species, such as Pink Cascade, in their gardens.
More information about Saltcedar (biology, impact) can be found at: