Athel pine

Native to northern Africa and Asia, athel pine was introduced to Queensland for shade, shelter and erosion control, but can escape cultivation and naturalise, especially around riverine habitats. Infestations can drain waterholes, concentrate salt, and change river flow patterns.

You must manage the impacts of Athel pine on your land.

You must not give away, sell or release Athel pine into the environment.

Scientific name

Tamarix aphylla


  • Spreading tree up to 15m tall with pendulous, jointed branches.
  • Immature trees have light grey trunks and stems.
  • Mature trees have thick, rough, dark-grey to black bark, grey-brown stems, and can be up to 1m in diameter.
  • Leaves are dull green and resemble pine needles.
  • Flowers are small, pinkish-white, no stalks, grow on spikes 30–40mm long.
  • Fruit is bell-shaped with a hairy tuft containing numerous small cylindrical seeds.
  • Seeds have tuft of fine hairs to assist dispersal.
  • Roots are strong, woody, deep in soil.


  • Resists drought.
  • Grows well in arid and semi-arid rangelands.
  • Grows best near or in rivers in sandy soil environments.


  • Visit Weeds Australia and click on the distribution tab to access the distribution map.

Life cycle

  • Reproduces via seed or propagation of plant parts.
  • Seeds germinate throughout the year.
  • A single tree produces thousands of seeds each year.
  • Flowering begins in the third year, then annually during summer.

Affected animals

  • Grazing stock
  • Cattle



  • Consumes water more quickly than native plants, reducing number and quality of waterholes.
  • Concentrates and excretes salt, making ground salty, excluding salt-sensitive plants.
  • Changes river flow patterns.
  • Causes overland flooding and bank erosion.


  • Affects pastoral industry by forming dense stands along inland rivers.


  • Reduces cultural and aesthetic value of affected land.

How it is spread

  • Seeds spread by wind, water and animals.


  • Control is difficult and costly, so prevent new infestations.
  • Take care using mechanical or herbicide control around waterways.

Biological control

  • No known biological control agent in Australia, although a beetle is proving effective in the USA.

Legal requirements

  • Athel pine is a category 3 restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • It must not be given away, sold, or released into the environment. Penalties may apply.
  • You must take all reasonable and practical measures to minimise the biosecurity risks associated with dealing with Athel pine under your control. This is called a general biosecurity obligation (GBO).
  • At a local level, each local government agency must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants in its area. This plan may include actions to be taken on Athel pine. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local council for more information.

Further information