tamarisk (tămˈərĭsk) [key], shrub or small tree of the genus Tamarix, native chiefly to the Mediterranean area and to central Asia. The plants are often heathlike and thrive in arid and coastal regions. Several species are cultivated as ornamentals for their feathery foliage and pink or white blossoms, e.g., T. gallica, which is now naturalized in suitable habitats in the S United States. T. mannifera produces the manna of the Bedouins, a white substance exuded through insect punctures. T. articulata furnishes a superior purplish tanning material used by the Arabs. Tamarisks are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Violales, family Tamaricaceae.
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