The Tamarisk Tree (Tamarix africana)
I love the Tamarisk tree. It is one of the best features of the Mediterranean landscape, in my humble opinion.
The Tamarisk plant belongs to the family of Tamaricaceae; it grows as a tree or as a shrub, and does well in hot, dry climates such as in the Mediterranean region. Here in Mallorca, we are blessed with five main species of Tamarisks, it would seem: Tamarix africana Poiret, Tamarix anglica Webb., Tamarix canariensis Willd., Tamarix gallica L. and Tamarix parviflora DC.
The tree shown in my photo (top) may be of the Tamarix africana variety, but I am not absolutely sure, whilst the tree shown in my photo (bottom) may be of the Tamarix gallica L. species. Let me refer you once more to a website that one can trust in Mallorcan plant matters: Herbarivirtual, which is done in a collaboration between the universities of Palma, Barcelona and València.
I must admit that I have not read the Bible in a very long time, but if one can believe the Internet, a Tamarisk tree was planted by Abraham, according to the Old Testament (Genesis 21:33). And according to The New Larousse Encyclopaedia of Mythology, the Tamarisk plant is a favourite of the Greek God, Apollo. Whatever, this is one of my favourites as well.
The plant is also known as Salt Ceder, Manna plant, Gazanjabin manna, Manna of Mount Sinai, Tamarisk galls or Tamarisk manna. Medicinal indications are known for urinary and liver disorders. It also acts as an expectorant. It is astringent as well as alkaloid, and acts as a laxative. The leaves and bark are collected in the spring and prepared as an infusion, a decoction or a powder. This can be taken orally or as an external compression. Tamarix gallica may help with the protection against liver carcinogenesis. The plant is used in the traditional Arab folk medicine, I understand.
The plant is not reported as being toxic.