Species list




Tamarisk, salt cedar (Eng); tarajal, tarahal, tamariz, taray (Spa); gatell, tamarell, tamariu (Cat); millazkia, tamariz (Baq); tarai (Glg); tamargueira (Por).


DID YOU KNOW...? The branches of the tamarisk shelter the nests of the moorhen. This bird visits the Canaries every autumn and sedentary populations have become established on the islands.


The genus Tamarix is very complex and identifying the species is difficult, even for specialists. They are usually trees or very branching bushes, whose leaves are scale-shaped and arranged around the twigs like tiles on a roof. They also have the ability to secrete salts from the substrate by means of small glands shaped like papillae. The white, cream or pink flowers are small, but very showy because they bloom in numerous elongated clusters. In addition, they are very aromatic and melliferous. The fruits are dry capsules containing seeds that have a tuft or crest of hairs.

In the Canary Islands there are two native species:

1. Tamarix africana Poir. Very dark blackish or brownish twigs. Deep green leaves. 5-petaled flowers in clusters 5-8 mm wide, whose axis sometimes has papillae, and which grows on twigs from previous years.

2. Tamarix canariensis Willd. Purple or reddish-brown twigs. Whitish-green leaves with abundant salt-secreting glands. 5-petaled flowers in blossom clusters less than 5 mm wide, which develop on young twigs. In addition, the axis of the cluster has papillae.

In the Canaries there is a naturalised non-native species:

3. Tamarix boveana Bunge. Brown or reddish-brown twigs. Whitish blue-green leaves with abundant salt-secreting glands. Most of the flowers have 4 petals in clusters 8-10 mm wide.


Tamarisks are adapted to moist soils with high concentrations of salts, which is why they are found along the coasts of the islands. They tend to grow in groups forming small open copses known locally as tarajales. Sometimes they are accompanied by other species that can live in the same habitat. They occupy stream beds in ravines and are particularly abundant near the wide river estuaries in the coastal zones. In addition tarajales are frequent (especially on the island of Fuerteventura) on ravine slopes, making them look like true 'green rivers'. They can also be found growing on dunes as long as there is sufficient moisture under the ground.


Both Tamarix africana and Tamarix canariensis are distributed across the western Mediterranean region and in Macaronesia (Canary Islands, Azores, Madeira and Cape Verde). In contrast, Tamarix boveana is native to the Iberian Peninsula and northwestern Africa.
  • 1. T. africana
  • 2. T. boveana
  • 3. T. canariensis