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 Jhav or Tamarisk

Latin Names Tamarix gallica auct., Dyer in part,  non Linn. (Tamaricaceae) English Names Tamarisk Sanskrit Name Jhavuka Hindi Name Jhav, JhauUrdu Name : Berge Jhao, Mayee Kalan (galls) HistoryIt is found in North India in sandy or gravelly areas, low-lying saline soils and on the banks of rivers.Morphology Description (Habit)  T.gallica is a gregarious, bushy shrub or a small tree. The bark is brownish, smooth when young and rough when mature; the leaves are minute, not sheathing; the flowers, pink or white, on long, very slender, spike-like racemes in terminal panicles; the capsules are conical, trigonous, tapering and pale pink; the seeds, with a plume of white hairs.Principal Constituents Tamarixin along with traces of its aglucone, tamarixetin.Indications Because of its mild and sweet taste, it is used to move the bowels in children as well as in bleeding disorders like menorrhagia, bleeding per rectum and epistaxis

General information :
Tamarisk, which is found in abundance in North India, has laxative and antihemolytic properties. The herb is often administered for constipation.

Therapeutic constituents :
Tamarixin is the main chemical constituent of Tamarisk, which gives the herb its therapeutic properties.

Key therapeutic benefits :

  • As a laxative, Tamarisk is beneficial in the treatment of constipation.
  • It is also useful in bleeding disorders like menorrhagia and rectal bleeding.

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of pageT. aphylla can produce numerous seeds that can be spread over a wide area by wind and water. The relatively low rate of T. aphylla invasion in North America was probably related to low seed production. However, the recently discovered sexual reproduction and aggressive invasion at Lake Mead, Nevada (possibly of a hybrid form), makes T. aphylla a threat in other areas of the desert in southwestern USA (Barnes et al., 2004) and northern Mexico. This species has spread rapidly and become a very serious weed along several hundred metres of the Finke River in arid central Australia (Griffin et al., 1989).

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page

  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •  Kingdom: Plantae
  •   Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •   Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •   Class: Dicotyledonae
  •     Order: Tamaricales
  •     Family: Tamaricaceae
  •      Genus: Tamarix
  •      Species: Tamarix aphylla

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of pageThe Old World genus Tamarix belongs to the family Tamaricaceae. According to the latest revision by B. R. Baum published in 1978 (cited in Mabberley, 1997), it comprises 54 species, although other authors have accepted up to 90 species.


Top of pageSee the datasheet on T. ramosissima for a description of the genus.

T. aphylla is a large (to 20 m tall with a trunk to 1 m or more in diameter) evergreen tree to high shrub. It generally attains small height and large girth. A variable height of the tree has been reported in the literature; 8-12 m (National Academy of Sciences, 1980) and 18 m height and girth of 1.8-2.1 m, occasionally attaining 3-3.5 m girth (Troup, 1921; Brandis, 1924). The tree is not very long-lived. It tapers rapidly and is heavily branched, but its crown does not spread widely.

It has slender, cylindric, jointed branches which are articulate at the base of the sheath. The bark is reddish-brown to grey and the slender twigs are often hoary with deep punctate glands that produce a saline efflorescence. The salty ‘tears’ drip in the night and the soil beneath trees is generally covered with a salt layer (Troup, 1921; National Academy of Sciences, 1980).

The foliage is fine bluish-grey or greyish-blue and superficially resembles long pine needles or Casuarina foliage. The leaves are small (about 2 mm long) and reduced to tiny scales that ensheath the wiry twigs and are well equipped to withstand desiccation (Troup, 1921). The lamina is reduced to a minute triangular tooth that is marked with glands. The tree is never totally leafless.

The flowers are loosely arranged on the slender spikes. They are small, usually white, occasionally pink, unisexual or bisexual, monoecious or dioecious, sessile and delicate. They are scattered on long, slender spikes which are usually clustered at the end of branches in loose racemose panicles, bracts sheathing. Vernal inflorescences simple, aestival ones compound and more common. Raceme 3-6 cm long, 4-5 mm broad, with sub-sessile flowers. Bracts triangular to broadly triangular, acuminate, somewhat clasping, longer than pedicels. Pedicel much shorter than calyx. Calyx pentamerous. Sepals ca. 1.5 mm long, entire, obtuse, the two outer slightly smaller, broadly ovate to broadly elliptic, slightly keeled, the inner slightly larger, broadly elliptic to sub-orbicular. Corolla pentamerous, sub-persistent to caducous. Petals 2-2.25 mm long, elliptic-oblong to ovate-elliptic. Androecium haplostemonous, of five antesepalous stamens; filaments inserted between the lobes of the nectary disc (hololophic) (Baum, 1978).

Fruit is a small, bell-shaped sessile capsule, and ripens in the cold season. The capsules contain minute seeds with tufts of long, soft, woolly hairs. Ripe capsules turn brown and open up gradually to allow the minute seeds to be dispersed by the wind.

Plant Type

Top of pageBroadleaved
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated


Top of pageThe native range of T. aphylla extends over the Middle East, North, East and Central Africa, and parts of West and South Asia (Brandis, 1924; Bailey, 1960). The species is thought to have originated in the Central Sahara, from where it spread to Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Egypt and North Africa, as well as to Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia (National Academy of Sciences, 1980; Qaiser 1981).

In North America, it occurs south of the freeze zone in the southern parts of California, Arizona and Texas, or roughly south of the 34th parallel from California through New Mexico and below the 30th parallel in south Texas. It extends into northern Mexico approximately to the 24th parallel. Griffin et al. (1989) gives the distribution of T. aphylla in Australia.

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