The salt tolerant African Tamarisk (Maltese name: Siġra tal-Bruk, Scientific name: Tamarisk africana) is a native of North Africa and South Western Europe, including Malta. Although, it is commonly cultivatedand widely used as a street tree, in the wild, native Tamarisk trees are actually rare and are only known in a few locations.
The African Tamarisk is a small tree or shrub which is much-branched and may grow to a height of six metres. Its leaves, resembling somewhat that of the Cypress tree, are rather scale-like and have a greenish-blue hue. Its tiny pink or white flowers are borne on clusters of thick, spike-like inflorescences. And, although the African Tamarisk usually flowers in spring or early summer, it may sometimes even flower in winter. Upon fertilisation, a capsule-like fruit is formed which contains many seeds.
The African Tamarisk has adapted to living in saline habitats by concentrating the excess salt in its leaves; later eliminated when the tree sheds its leaves. This adaptation also prevents many insects and animals from feeding on the tree or parasitizing it. Salt is temporarily deposited on the soil surface, making the growth of competing plants much more difficult.
The African Tamarisk is considered to be a strictly protected tree under national legislation and one should not prune, fell or uproot this tree without previously obtaining the necessary permits from the Competent Authorities.