The Weed Warrior: Tamarisk

The Weed Warrior: Tamarisk

Pictured above: Tamarisk says: “Tamarisk, aka Salt Cedar or Pink Cascade, is one of the Nature Conservancy’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ alien species. With its ability to secrete salt from its leaves and stems, Tamarisk has made stream banks, lakeshores and irrigation ditches inhospitable for other plants in the American west.”

The Invasive Species Council of BC (ISCBC) tells us that a mature Tamarisk can spread hundreds of thousands of seeds by wind and water.

According to, Tamarisk roots can grow 20-30 feet (six-10 metres) deep in search of the water table and remove 200 gallons (750 litres) of water a day from the ground. has listed Tamarisk as a “prohibited noxious” weed that must be destroyed.

So, fellow RDEKers, how about we get ahead of the curve and refuse to buy or plant this bad hombre locally.

ISCBC recommends the following Grow-me-Insteads (GMIs): Smoke Bush, Rocky Mountain Juniper, Preston Lilac, Pacific Ninebark and Birchleaf Spirea.

Pictured: Smoke Bush

ISCBC says: “Smoke Bush is a Zone 5 deciduous shrub or small tree that grows up to about six metres. It has rounded leaves and tiny flowers in densely branched, smoke-like clusters. The Smoke Bush clusters are pink, green or grey and persist into the late summer and fall. Purple, green and yellow-leaved forms are popular. Careful, some people are sensitive to the cut stems, so wear gloves.

Pictured: Rocky Mountain Juniper

Rocky Mountain Juniper is a Zone 4 BC native. It can be a large shrub or small conical open-branched tree to 10 metres, with coarse, vertically shredding bark and grey-green aromatic, evergreen foliage. Rocky Mountain Juniper prefers native to dry, often lime-rich, rocky soils on open hills and mountain-sides.

Pictured: Preston Lilac

Preston Lilac grows in Zone 2. These are late-flowering, hardy lilacs originally produced in the 1920s by the Canadian breeder Isabella Preston. Preston lilacs are shrubs or small trees with strong, upright stems and fragrant white, pink or rosy-purple flowers in conical heads. They require sunshine and fertile, humus-rich soil with plenty of lime.

Pictured: Pacific Ninebark

Pacific Ninebark likes Zone 4. It is restricted primarily to wet soils of the coast and the wet interior zone. This shade-tolerant shrub grows one to four metres tall and is noted for its layered, vertically peeling bark. Small white flowers are held in rounded clusters.

Pacific Ninebark is drought tolerant when established, but grows best in part shade or full shade in moist, fertile soil.

Pictured: Birchleaf Spirea

Birchleaf Spirea is a Zone 2 B.C. native. It’s a small deciduous shrub 30 to 60 cm tall, with nearly flattened, rounded terminal flower clusters six or seven cm across. Blooming in early summer, the flowers contrast strongly with the deep green oval leaves. Birchleaf Spirea likes any well drained soil in sun or part shade.”