Facts & Folkore:
The Tamarisk, also known as the Salt Cedar, is composed of about 50–60 species of flowering plants native to drier areas of Eurasia and Africa. The generic name originated in Latin and may refer to the Tamaris River in Hispania Tarraconensis (Spain). Tamarisks usually grow on saline soils, tolerating up to 15,000 ppm soluble salt and bloom with pink or white flowers. Tamarix species are fire-adapted, and have long tap roots that allow them to intercept deep water tables and exploit natural water resources. They are able to limit competition from other plants by taking up salt from deep ground water, accumulating it in their foliage, and from there depositing it in the surface soil (and can be used as a method of salt mining) where it builds up concentrations temporarily detrimental to some plants. The salt is washed away during heavy rains. Allegedly, the Romans used to wreathe the heads of criminals with tamarisk withes. In Egyptian mythology, the body of Osiris is hidden for a time in a tamarisk tree in Byblos, until it was retrieved by Isis. A reference to this is also made in the computer game, Age of Mythology, in which the head of Osiris is said to be hidden inside the trunk of a great tamarisk tree. And in the Zoroastrian religion of the ancient world, the magi in the priesthood created sacred bundles of twigs (or "slender wands"), usually of tamarisk twigs, for their ritualistic practices to establish a connecting link between the material and spiritual realm.
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