Athel pine (Tamarix aphylla) is included on Australia’s list of Weeds of National Significance!

Because it is such a fast-growing plant (a young tree will grow 30cm per month under ideal conditions with plenty of water and warm weather)


A beautiful line of athel trees – planted for effect.

Athel pine (aka Athel tree) has been widely planted in rural areas as a shade tree. But, the growth rate and its ability to invade riparian areas has turned this species into a problem plant! It is a major problem in inland areas of the Northern Territory, where it tends to follow water ways (to the detriment of the environment in terms of

Athel pine (other common names include Tamarisk and flowering cypress) is now a declared noxious weed throughout Australia.


Salt from the athel pine has rusted out this steel post – Bingara NSW

The problem:

Athel pine can take over the ground and eliminate desirable plant species. Its allelopathic properties leaves the ground underneath the tree denuded of all useful plant species.

The high levels of salt excreted by Athel pine can also have a dramatic effect on metal objects underneath the trees. The image (left) shows how a metal fence post shaded by an athel pine over a period of years has rusted away (note the galvanised wire is still intact?). So, parking trailers, farm machinery or other metal objects under the shade of an Athel pine tree isn’t necessarily doing the item a favour!

NWW5304WX Athel pine seeds and flowers closeup Bingara Mar 03 LRT

Detail of athel pine seeds and flowers…

The pine needles are continuously dropping from the trees. Combined with their high levels of salt, they cover the ground and restrict growth of grass and other plant species. The pine needles clutter roof guttering around building – what water does get through into a rainwater tank will be affect the taste of the water for some time. The needles also find their way into the tiniest crevices in motor vehicles.


NWW5301WX Athel pine flowers Bingara Mar 03 LRT copy

Athel pine flowers – the bees enjoy them!

These photos (left and above) indicate what a prolific producer of seed athel pine can be! The seeds are spread mainly by floodwaters and wind. New plants are easily grown from detached limbs – and the seeds, if fertile.


Treatment options are limited. Manual removal using machinery is one, but that has its limitations.Currently there are no  herbicides registered for use on Athel pine on the Australian


Athel pine – shade trees – Quirindi NSW

Pesticides & Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) website but there are two herbicide permits in place (for Northern Territory only: (1) registered for the use of Arsenal® in limited areas of the Northern Territory (2) using a mix of Starane® and Garlon® – Northern Territory only.

Something to be aware of: the Small-scale Trial Permit PER7250, is also available for qualified persons to trial various herbicides.  Check out the APVMA website for more information on this.

MORE INFORMATION: … “Noxious Weeds of Australia” by Parsons & Cuthbertson (Inkata Press) OR do a search on the very informative website

Also of interest:

Kay Bailey, National Athel Pine Coordinator – – convened an Athel Pine Forum at the NSW Weeds Conference at Coffs Harbour NSW 21 July 2011 to gauge and, indeed, to promote awareness of the potential spread of athel pine within Australia. Kay’s paper from that forum? Check with Kay.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this web site is based on knowledge and understanding at the time of writing. However, because of advances in knowledge, users are reminded of the need to ensure that information upon which they rely is up to date and to check currency of the information with the appropriate officer of North West Weeds or the user’s independent adviser. LR Tanner – 25/7/15