Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Saltcedar (Tamarix parviflora) found along the Mississippi River in Alton, IL, population under active management

Saltcedar infestation at Lock and Dam 26
The US Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) recently found a small population of smallflower saltcedar (Tamarix parviflora) along the banks of the Mississippi River below Lock and Dam 26 near Alton, IL in July 2012. Recognizing the potential this invader has for spreading throughout the Mississippi River Valley and its ability to dominate riparian areas and exclude native species, the ACOE responded very quickly by initiating an eradication program. This represents one of the first documented infestations of saltcedar in Illinois and is a great example of Early Detection and Rapid Response for a new invader. The ACOE is dedicated to continuing management efforts with the goal of eradicating this population.

ACOE employees treating infestation

Saltcedar does represent a great threat to riparian areas and wetlands in Illinois if populations become established and begin to spread. Luckily, saltcedar is relatively easy to recognize. On the surface, saltcedar looks like a thin, open red cedar tree, with similar leaves and growth. Trees rarely get above 15 feet in height, usually being much smaller and often multi-stemmed. The branches are very slender and wispy. Younger bark has a reddish cast. The flowers on saltcedar are very small and purple. The leaves are very reduced and scale-like, looking very much like the leaves of red cedar.
The reddish bark and reduced leaves help identify saltcedar
(photo courtesy of www.bugwood.org)

Saltcedar often grows as a small, multi-stemmed shrub. The
thin, open branches and small leaves make this plant easily
recognizable (photo courtesy of www.bugwood.org)
 If you think you’ve found saltcedar, please report it either by emailing rivertoriver@gmail.com or by utilizing the online reporting system found at www.eddmaps.org. Early Detection and Rapid Response is out best chance of keeping this species from impact Illinois.

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