This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
So called from its native place in Spain, Tamaris, the Tamarisk is an evergreen shrub which is planted on account of its predilection for the sea. It is woody, erect, and possesses slender, feathery branches, with threadlike or awl-shaped leaves below, triangular, with earlike lobes above, overlapping, and small.
The flowers are pink, in spikes, which are lateral, close, alternate, slender, and with broad arrow-shaped bracts or leaflike organs below. The sepals and petals are five in number, the lateral ones do not fall, and all are united at the base, with apiculate anthers. The capsule, which is globular, 3-sided, is narrower at the top, and contains numerous feathered seeds, the hairs being lateral and terminal.
The Tamarisk is sometimes 12 ft. in height. The flowers bloom from May to October. It is a perennial shrub.
The flowers, though small, are rather conspicuous as a whole. This is one of those maritime plants which, though they flower late, are not attractive to insects, and have thus to rely on self-pollination very largely. The anthers are capable of moving when they are about to discharge pollen. There are several carpels and many stamens.
The Tamarisk is dispersed by the agency of the wind, and the seed is provided with a tuft of hairs which render it fit for wind dispersal.
Requiring a saline soil, it is a salt-lover, and is also a sand-loving plant, living on a sand soil.
No fungi or insects infest the Tamarisk, so far as is known.
Tamarix, Pliny, is the Latin name of the plant, and gallica refers to its French derivation (in our case).
The Tamarisk is called Cypress, Heath, Ling, and Tamarisk. Turner, in his Names of Herbes, says it was once called Heath: "the Schole maisters in Englande have a long time called myrica (Tamarix) heath, or lyng, but so longe have been deceyved altogether".
In Sicily they believed it was the tree upon which Judas hanged himself. It is cultivated as a hedge plant, and much used for this purpose along the coast, where nothing else will grow.
Essential Specific Characters: 60. Tamarix gallica, L. - Shrubby, branches slender, leafy, flexible, leaves scale-like, glabrous, appressed, minute, flowers pink or rose in a panicle, capsule rounded, truncate.