Do you ever let your mind wonder? If you don't, you should try it. I find when I do... sometimes I discover the most amazing things. Here is one such case. In Los Angeles it is rare to have cloudy day, but when we have one and the clouds are big and fluffy, it puts me in a daydreamy mood. On a recent cloudy day I was driving along, head in the clouds so-to-speak, when my attention was captured by a tree reaching skyward looking like a big ol' carnival serving of pink cotton candy. It was a tree I had never seen before. Excitedly, I parked my car and ran over to investigate. What I discovered was indeed something brand new to me! I love those moments. The tree I was discovering for the first time is called Tamarix ramosissima commonly referred to as Tamarisk or Salt Cedar. It was covered in delicate plumes of rosy pink buds and flowers that seemed to have the bees going wild and my senses stimulated!
Tamarix ramosissima is considered a deciduous shrub or small tree. It comes to us from Europe, Africa, and Asia where it is usually found thriving in dry desert or seaside conditions. It can grow to 15 feet tall and wide or sometimes larger. What makes this shrub/tree so distinctive is its foliage. It's very conifer and scale-like. Reminds me of a juniper bush.
In spring, at least here in L.A., it produces a bounty of buds that bloom and transform the shrub/tree into a dreamy 'draizy' cloud of pink cotton candy. Flowering is known to occur from spring through summer. So that's the beauty part. The beast part is that this plant is highly invasive in certain situations. Tamarix ramosissima is resistant to salt, arid conditions, wind, and thrives in poor soils. When planted near waterways it can take over by reseeding and suckering up a storm.
On the plus side, this shrub/tree is tough! It can be kept as a stunning specimen as long as it is pruned regularly, after flowering or before new spring growth emerges, and given some watchful maintenance. It is great for desert gardens and can handle salty seaside conditions. Makes a great windbreak. It just needs full sun, well-draining soil, little to regular water, and is hardy down to -40 degrees fahrenheit and celsius! Tough as nails and as beautiful as spun sugar.