Casuarina Facts

Casuarina Facts
Casuarina, also known as she-oak or Australian pine, is flowering plant that belongs to the casuarina family. Despite its name, it is not "true" pine. There are 17 species of casuarina that originate from Australasia. These plants can be found in tropical and sub-tropical areas around the world today. Casuarina grows on the river banks, in the swamps and coastal regions. It thrives on clayey, loamy or sandy soil, both in dry and wet, frost-free areas. Casuarina tolerates drought, seasonal flooding and moderate salinity of the ground. People cultivate casuarina as a windbreak and in ornamental purposes.
Interesting Casuarina Facts:
Casuarina is an evergreen plant. It grows in the form of shrub or small tree that can reach 65 to 115 feet in height.
Casuarina has scaly leaves designed to prevent loss of water via transpiration (adaptation to the harsh environmental conditions in Australia). What look like leaves are actually branchlets, grayish-green photosynthetic branches. Microscopically small, teeth-like leaves are arranged in the whorls in between the nodes on branchlets.
Casuarina produces individual male and female flowers on the same (monoecious) or separate trees (dioecious), depending on the species. Male flowers look like pine needles with fuzzy ends (catkins-like inflorescence). Female flowers are small, reddish-brown colored and arranged in the flower heads.
Casuarina blooms during February and March. Flowers are designed for the pollination by wind.
Fruit of casuarina is woody, cone-shaped and filled with 70 to 90 winged seed. Casuarina produces hundreds of "cones" each year.
"Cones" filled with seed are important source of food for the birds such as black cockatoos, finches and rainbow lorikeets.
Wagtails, Pee Wees and Butcher (type of birds) nest among the branches of casuarina.
Fine texture of evergreen leaves and branchlets resembles the feathers of cassowary (type of bird), hence the name casuarina.
Casuarina was very popular and often planted in the streets and school yards in Australia in the past. It is mostly cultivated as windbreak and screen today.
Casuarina (root) releases allelopathic toxins which prevent growth of nearby plants. Thanks to these substances, casuarina easily conquers new areas and eliminates native plant species.
Casuarina increases fertility of the soil thanks to actinobacteria which live inside nitrogen-fixing root nodules. Actinobacteria convert atmospheric nitrogen into plant-friendly type of nitrogen (nitrates). In return, casuarina provides food for actinobacteria.
Branchlets of casuarina are prized as excellent mulch due to high content of nitrogen.
Casuarina shelterbelts protect livestock from the strong winds. Wood of casuarina can be used as firewood and for the manufacture of particleboard and fence posts.
Aborigines used resin extracted from casuarina tree in their diet, in medical purposes and as adhesive.
Casuarina is perennial plant that can survive 40 to 50 years in the wild.


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