We are well in the midst of our summer tamarisk blossom harvest. Walking rivers and streams on private land, we gather these sweet pink flowers (before they set seed) for use in a botanical perfume for our Tamarisk Blossom Soap.
This well-hated invasive from Eurasia and Africa holds far more scandal than can be summed up in a short post. New research shows that its horrific reputation may have been more than a little exaggerated in the name of scamming water rights. What we know for sure is that tamarisk survives in environmentally devastated situations where native riparian plants have given up the ghost and provides nesting sites for the endangered Willow Flycatcher. Its insanely long phreatophytic taproots can reach the sinking water tables of sadly degraded and downcut water courses – providing the riparian zone with much needed shade, habitat and erosion control.
Tamarisk out-competes native riparian species with its rugged ability to access water and tolerate salt (which it accumulates and then returns to the soil with leaf drop). It's important to note that when rivers are allowed their normal flood cycle (rather than being dammed or straightened), the salt concentration in the soil is lowered, native vegetation germination rises and tamarisk's competitive advantage can be lost.
Tamarisk has anti-microbial properties and a high tannin content, produces a beautiful pink or purple dye, has good uses in bioremediation and as coppice agroforestry in intensely degraded areas. Pale pink tamarisk blossom's fragrance is a sweet powder with mild, clean undertones of dry hay and floral honey.
Check out our Tamarisk Blossom Botanical Soap and pamper your skin with organic jojoba oil, hand-rendered local tallow and the delicious pastel perfume of this notorious invasive.