• Flooding;
  • leaf gas exchange;
  • salinity;
  • saltcedar


In Mediterranean coastal areas, changes in precipitation patterns and seawater levels are leading to increased frequency of flooding and to salinization of estuaries and freshwater systems. Tamarix spp. are often the only woody species growing in such environments. These species are known for their tolerance to moderate salinity; however, contrasting information exists regarding their tolerance to flooding, and the combination of the two stresses has never been studied in Tamarix spp. Here, we analyse the photosynthetic responses of T. africana Poiret to temporary flooding (45 days) with fresh or saline water (200 mm) in two Italian provenances (Simeto and Baratz). The measurements were conducted before and after the onset of flooding, to test the possible cumulative effects of the treatments and effects on twig aging, and to analyse the responses of twigs formed during the experimental period. Full tolerance was evident in T. africana with respect to flooding with fresh water, which did not affect photosynthetic performances in either provenance. Saline flooding was differently tolerated by the two provenances. Moreover, salinity tolerance differently affected the two twig generations. In particular, a reduction in net assimilation rate (−48.8%) was only observed in Baratz twigs formed during the experimental period, compared to pre-existing twigs. This reduction was a consequence of non-stomatal limitations (maximum carboxylation rate and electron transport), probably as a result of higher Na transport to the twigs, coupled with reduced Na storage in the roots.