tam·​a·​risk ˈta-mə-ˌrisk How to pronounce tamarisk (audio)
: any of a genus (Tamarix of the family Tamaricaceae, the tamarisk family) of deciduous large shrubs and small trees native to Asia and the Mediterranean region and widely naturalized in North America that have tiny, scalelike leaves and feathery racemes of small, white to pink flowers

Note: Tamarisks are often considered weeds in North America where they thrive especially in arid or semiarid regions.

To survive in arid areas where the groundwater is saline, tamarisks have evolved the ability to get rid of salt by pumping it out onto their leaves.Josie Glausiusz
tamarisk has been so successful that it is now the dominant plant in most desert riparian areas, blanketing more than a million acres in 15 states.Sharon Cohoon

called also salt cedar

Examples of tamarisk in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Take the spread of tamarisk, an invasive treelike shrub that has displaced native vegetation in the canyon and around other Western rivers. Raymond Zhong, New York Times, 6 June 2023 About two decades ago, officials decided to fight back by releasing beetles that loved eating tamarisk leaves. Raymond Zhong, New York Times, 6 June 2023 Now, all that grows are small groups of tamarisk trees planted as a bulwark against the sands. Alissa J. Rubin, BostonGlobe.com, 30 July 2023 Close to midday, the group emerged from the wash and walked up a dirt trail above the tamarisk and willow trees. The Arizona Republic, 21 July 2023 Its name comes from the tamarisk trees on the property, a flowering plant mentioned in the Old Testament and the Iliad. Giacomo Tognini, Forbes, 4 May 2023 Salt cedar, or tamarisk, grows rapidly from seedlings and is difficult to eradicate. Jake Frederico, The Arizona Republic, 29 Mar. 2023 Throughout the year, Appelbaum worked with crews from the Urban Corps, a conservation organization that employs disadvantaged young adults, to remove invasive plants including tamarisk, a non-native shrub, and arundo donax, a tall, perennial cane, from the creek beds. Deborah Sullivan Brennan, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Nov. 2020 Take a dip in the shallow waters, sunbathe under the tamarisk trees, and don't forget to buy a beer from the cafe — that donkey didn't come here for nothing. Julia Buckley, Travel + Leisure, 12 Apr. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tamarisk.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English tamarisc, from Late Latin tamariscus, from Latin tamaric-, tamarix

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of tamarisk was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near tamarisk

Cite this Entry

“Tamarisk.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tamarisk. Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


tam·​a·​risk ˈtam-ə-ˌrisk How to pronounce tamarisk (audio)
: any of a genus of chiefly desert shrubs of Eurasia and Africa that have small narrow leaves and clusters of tiny flowers

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