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French tamarix (Tamarix gallica)

Diputación de Málaga
Taray (Tamarix gallica) 1

French tamarix (Tamarix gallica)

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Plant Life > Trees, Bushes and Herbaceous Plants

IDENTIFICATION

It is a deciduous bush (up to 8 m high) of a cracked and ashen-coloured bark. The branches are slender and flexible, somewhat hanging. The leaves are alternating, scaly, of an oval shape and/or elongated, very small, embracing the branches. They are whitish-green coloured. The flowers are small, set in clusters of white or pink-coloured spikes, that are born on branches of the present year and appears at the same time as the leaves. They have 5 petals and 5 yarns. The fruit is a dehiscent capsule (that means that it opens when ripe) of 3 valves (a structure similar to a clamshell). It contains seeds with a feathery plume.

WHERE DOES IT LIVE?

This plant is adapted to wet and flooded lands, with a high salt rate, like salt marshes, riverbanks or depressions with a high phreatic level. It grows from sea level (forming riverbanks woodlands on river mouths, up to 900 meters above sea level). It forms open forests (called tamarices) with other species like willows, reeds or bulrush. They are endemic plants from the Mediterranean region.

HOW DOES IT LIVE?

This species can successfully proliferate on a vegetative way. Its adventitious roots (secondary) and its full stems are responsible for this propagation. It reproduces thanks to seeds. Each flower can produce thousands of diminished seeds (diameter of 1 mm) contained in a very compact spike and adorned with a tuft of fur helping its dispersion by the wind (anemophilia). It can also be dispersed through the water (hydrophilia). Germination requires large periods of saturated soils under water to unchain this process. Once the seed reaches the substrate, it must stay flooding at least during several months before starting to germinate. It flourishes from March to June and fruits in summer.

WHERE CAN WE SEE IT IN THE MALAGA PROVINCE?

It the Málaga province, it is a very common species on riverbanks and streams from the eastern part of the province, coinciding with Sierras Tejeda and Almijara. In the Great Path (Gran Senda), it can be observed on stages 3 to 8.

CURIOUS FACTS

The French tamarix is used to prevent gastrointestinal disorders. It helps to stop diarrhea and treat dysentery thanks to its astringent tannins. It is also used for hemorrhoids and intestinal parasites treatment. It is a very used species for riverbanks and river-mouths restoration.

SIMILAR SPECIES

It can be confused with other tamarix species. T. gallica is easily identified for its flowers plumes of a whitish or very fair pink colour, as well as for the ashen colour of its bark.

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