I get tired of seeing people parrot the same tired superstitions.
There is no other tree that can reclaim the eroded canyons of the American southwest like the Tamarisk. I have done extensive canyon scrambling in California, New Mexico and Arizona, and have seen Tamarisk populations arrest the flow of other organics such as tree trunks and other debris to build soil and habitat for insects and fungi in arroyos, and provide shade, where other native plants are simply blasted to bits by the cascade of water and boulders that crash down during flash floods.
Tamarisks do not 'consume' up to 200 gallons of water a day; what they do with that water is put it up into the atmosphere. While this does deplete the immediately-surrounding water table, it ultimately adds to the atmospheric water battery that keeps fresh water from flowing down the arroyos to the sea, lost forever. That's just what trees do, and Tamarisk does it very well. Trees don't just happen because there is rain; rain also happens because there are trees.
They do not 'add' salt to the soil -- they bring it up closer to the surface, where the rain has more of a chance to wash it away, thereby ultimately improving the soil quality.
On Oct 10, 2009, whyteboy_9 from Pueblo, CO (Zone 6a) wrote:
All species of Tamarisk are invasive in most of the Western US, especially arid and semi-arid regions. The plants is also slated for eradication in the Arkansas and Purgatory watersheds of Pueblo, Fremont, Huerfano, Bent, Otero, Prowers, Baca, and Las Animas counties in Southeastern Colorado and is extremely invasive in the area along with Russian Olive.
I listed my experience as neutral because I grew up loving the beauty of both of these trees and the landscape I have alway loved will never be the same when the beautiful silvers, pinks, and soft greens of the riprarian areas cease to exist.Yet I know its for the best.