Establishment and growth of halophytic shrubs with increasing concentration of total dissolved salts
Saltwater spill sites on west Texas rangelands caused by the oil and gas industry can reduce vegetation and weaken the soil structure to the point no vegetation can survive. This study assessed three halophyte shrubs, Four-winged saltbush (Atriplex canescens (Pursh) Nutt.), Salt cedar (Tamarix chinensis Lour.) and Willow baccharis (Baccharis salicina Torr. & A. Gray) response to increasing water salinity. Plants were divided into four groups and watered with either 0, 3,000, 5,000 or 10,000 ppm sodium chloride (NaCl) solution for 34 days. Plant height, drainage volume, drainage electrical conductivity and soil electrical conductivity were measured throughout the study. Nutritional analysis of each plant species was also recorded at the end of the study. All species survived and removed sodium (Na) from the soil. Salt cedar top growth had the highest Na content in its leaves and lowest salinity in the soil making it a preferred shrub specie to plant on saltwater spill sites.