Another thank you to S.Q. Mehdi@Flickr (Qamar) of Lahore, Pakistan, for sharing one of his photographs with Botany Photo of the Day (see the original image posted via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool).
Qamar refers to the plant as Tamarix articulata (link to Wikipedia entry), but that name seems to have become a synonym of Tamarix aphylla (Flora of Pakistan verifies), so this entry is written using web resources for Tamarix aphylla.
Native to much of central and northern Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, western Asia and the Indian subcontinent, Tamarix aphylla can also be found as a naturalized plant in Australia and the southwest USA. I vaguely recall stories some years ago about salt-cedar (or tamarisk) species displacing native willows along riparian zones in both Australia and the southwest USA. A search for recent news, though, reveals a distressing tale: “Beetles Bungled — Biological Control Out of Control“. In brief, beetles released as biological control for tamarisk in the USA have been so effective that they are quickly eradicating the invasive, and thus destroying habitat for the endangered willow flycatcher (a bird species of the native willows — before the willows were displaced by the tamarisk).
To see the extent of Tamarix aphylla in Australia, view this map of weed spread (PDF). A number of invasive plant resources exist for tamarisk as well: Tamarix aphylla via Invasives.org and Tamarix aphylla via TexasInvasives.org (with the catchy slogan, “Hello Invasives, Goodbye Texas”).
On a different topic: Botanic Gardens Conservation International has recently launched a new campaign to garner support for the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC), an initiative to provide a framework for plant conservation actions at global, regional, national and local levels. You can help by adding your name to the list of supporters on Plants for the Planet. Browsing through the list of supporters, I see many people from botanical gardens and/or the UK — would be great to have more people from around the world and additional people not directly in the botanical garden community. Only takes a minute to sign up (but you may want to read the GSPC first). Thanks for your support if you choose to do so!