Characteristics of Tamarisk Nile Tree (Tamarix nilotica) in the Wild

Tamarix nilotica
Tamarisk nile (Tamarix nilotica) is a species of shrub or small tree found in the arid regions of North Africa and the Middle East, especially areas of high salinity.

The natural habitat of the nile tamarisk tree is found in Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. In the Nile Valley in Egypt, this tree grows on the banks of rivers and irrigation canals. It is also found as part of salt-tolerant communities in basins in the Western Desert, and in coastal dunes where its deep roots are capable of extracting salty water from the subsoil.

In the Moghra oasis, in the Qattara Depression, there are brackish lakes and Phragmites swamps, and nile tamarisk trees dominate the zone on the edge of the oasis where vegetation ceases and the surrounding arid plains. It is often found growing together with Nitraria retusa, Alhagi maurorum, Cressa cretica, and Zygophyllum sp.

 

Characteristics of Nile Tamarisk Leaf

Tamarix nilotica Leaf
Source: inaturalist.org/edanko

The leaves are small, narrow, lanceolate, only about 3 mm long.

 

Characteristics of Nile Tamarisk Flower

Tamarix nilotica Flower
Source: inaturalist.org/fragmansapir

The flowers are 5-10 cm long, white or pink, each with a short stalk, five petals, and five stamens.

 

Characteristics of Nile Tamarisk Tree

Tamarix nilotica Tree
Source: inaturalist.org/frhuey

Tamarisk nile generally grows as a multi-branched shrub 3-10 meters high. In Arabic speaking countries, this tree is called أثل نيلي.

Tamarisk nile trees can help stabilize the sand and can form nabkha as part of the dune formation process (windblown sand stops at the foot of the bush and builds up, gradually creating a mound). The extensive tamarisk nile root system continues to extract moisture from the underlying saline substrate and grows faster than the rise of the mound.

In Egypt, the tamarisk nile tree has been used in traditional medicine as an antiseptic, antipyretic, to relieve headaches and reduce inflammation. It also has a reputation as an aphrodisiac.

 

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