The Tamerici they are famous thanks to the poem "The rain in the pine grove" by Gabriele D'Annunzio but let's not relegate them to the books of literature because they are very pleasant ornamental plants that can give a lot of satisfaction. So let's find out, beyond the poet's lines, the real characteristics of this genre and how to cultivate it.
Also called Tamarix, it is a shrubby plant belonging to the Tamaricaceae family that is native to the coastal areas ofSouthern Europe, India and China. Equipped with an important and robust root system, this plant reaches a height of about 7 meters rising to the sky with a dark red and very gnarled trunk. The branches are very long but also thin and support a very elegant and considerable size. The leaves of the Tamerici are not very large, they resemble triangular shaped needles and are arranged as a spiral. They are thin but have a meaty texture.
In late spring, but before summer begins, the flowers they show off also appear a magnificent pink color and form large patches of color. They are not large flowers but are grouped in spikes and have a very delicate scent that does not go unnoticed. Shortly after the flowers come the berries that contain the seeds and are brown in the shape of a pyramid.
Everyone seems to know this plant, again because of D'Annunzio, but in truth there are not many who have it in the garden and who would know how to use it. We can find her employed as plant for windbreak hedges in windy areas near the sea or as a terrace plant. It can also be grown very easily in gardens where it forms paths or thickets. More rarely, we can find the Tamerici used as if they were bonsai, especially if they belong to particular species: Juniperina, T. parviflora and T. ramosissima.
Let's not forget that the bark can be a source of tannins and that bees love these plants very much even if the honey produced is in small quantities.
The Tamerici must be able to stay in bright and sunny places for many hours a day, they love the heat even if they are able to withstand the cold, the only thing that can affect this plant are late frosts.
The best soil is that mixed with sand and well drained, but to be fertilized at least every 2 or 3 years, in spring or autumn, with a well-mature organic fertilizer. No need to water the Tamerici, also, because they usually manage to get by with rainwater. Only in the first years of life it is necessary to water them regularly, especially in the hottest season and in periods of prolonged drought.
Tamerici: pruning and multiplication
To obtain a thick and generous foliage it is very important to remember to prune this plant to make it rejuvenate but also to promote flowering. It usually acts on dry branches and on those that are too long. Then in spring comes the time for the multiplication of Tamerici which happens by seed. Alternatively you can also use the cuttings but in autumn, taking them with well-sharpened shears and then arranging them to root in a mixture of sand and peat.
The worst enemies of this plant are the white disease, also called powdery mildew, which appears when the climate is excessively humid, and then a parasite such as Metcalfa in addition to the woodworm larvae that dig showy tunnels in the trunk and branches.
Tamerici in poetry
We mentioned D'Annunzio as a poet who made this plants famous, but they also owe much of their fame to the very good Giovanni Pascoli. His first collection of poems is entitled “Myricae”, a Latin word also used by Virgil to indicate his bucolic poems, a word that means tamarisk.
We cannot forget the third poet who names her and who is certainly no less important than those mentioned so far. It is about Eugenio Montale that in its composition "End of childhood ", present in the collection, he cites the plant as follows: “there were only a few houses / of old brick, scarlet, / and scarce hair of pale tamarisk trees…”.
Also Virgilio, in his Bucolics, he quotes them - "Not everyone likes shrubs and humble tamarisk trees" - and in the Iliad Homer makes Adrastus stumble, pursued by Menelaus, with a horse, right in a bush of tamarisk trees. We end with a more modern quote, within a video game, of "Age of Mythology", where the Tamerici is the tree inside which there is a piece of the body of Osiris.
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