Casuarina was the sole genus in the family, but has been split into three more genera, a proposal that is not universally accepted – the family presently has Allocasuarina, Casuarina, Ceuthostoma, and Gymnostoma. Members of this family are all characterized by drooping equisetoid, leaf-like twigs (needles). The roots have nitrogen-fixing nodules.
Male flowers are in spikes and are carried on the ends of branches. Fruit are small spheres containing a large number of pale, winged seeds.
Photo: Robert Whyte
Foliage and propagation
Propagate from seed. Pick the cones, keep them in a warm place in a paper bag and the winged seeds will be released in a couple of days.
AKA River/scrub she-oak. river/fire oak, Australian pine, beefwood, billagin.
Foliage. Photo: Robert Whyte
Casuarina from botanical Latin casuarius, the cassowary, the name of which derives from the Malay name, kasuari, because of the resemblance of the trees long drooping foliage to the plumage of the bird; cunninghamiana after Cunningham, Allan (1791 – 1839) the Australian explorer, sent by Joseph Banks to New South Wales in 1816 to collect plants, Cunningham joined John Oxley’s expedition to the Lachlan and Macquarie rivers in 1817. He was botanist on the “Mermaid” 1817-20 and made inland explorations of New South Wales and Queensland. He was later Superintendent of the Sydney Botanic Gardens.
An explanation (not PC) of the common name is that the timber resembles oak but is inferior.
Bark. Photo: Robert Whyte