Belonging to the Casuarinaceae family, Casuarina equisetifolia is a plant with a straight trunk that can reach a height of 50-65 feet. Casuarina is a hardwood tree that is grown in areas bordering water in the tropics. Widely grown in Malaysia, the Pacific Islands, Australia and West Indies, Casuarina is used in shipbuilding for the quality of its wood.

Casuarina equisetifolia is one of many trees used for decorative purposes. Indeed, its needle-like leaves and beautiful prickly flowers give it a refined appearance to which small coloured lights may be added to obtain a Christmas tree, a practice common in the Caribbean. The Casuarina’s female flowers have a shortened peduncle while that of the male flowers are cone-shaped. Like many other plants, pollination is achieved by the wind.

Planting Casuarina equisetifolia

The Australian pine is propagated by sowing in the spring. The ideal temperature to obtain good seedlings is around 77 ° F. Insert a moist substrate in a well-drained jar to avoid seed deterioration, and then sow the seed by covering it with a little earth. Seedlings will grow a few weeks later. The taking of cuttings is also a good way to have Casuarina seedlings ready for planting. Unlike other plants, Casuarina can be grown on depleted land or even on sandy soil with high salt content. However, the garden must be completely rid of weeds. The ground must be sufficiently watered before putting in the plants. Then, the young seedlings must be pushed in about 4 inches deep. If planting must be done by sowing, first plant the seeds in a jar before transplanting the seedlings on the prepared ground.

Knowing how to maintain Casuarina

Because of its particular hardiness, some people think that Casuarina equisetifolia does not need maintenance. This is partly true, but be careful to water the plants regularly during the first two years following planting. Adding fertilizer is not mandatory because the Casuarina’s roots, in symbiosis with the nitrogen fixing Frankia bacteria, absorb the nutrients necessary to their survival from atmospheric nitrogen. This interesting aptitude of Casuarina is currently being researched in order to benefit other plants.

Gardening tips for Casuarina equisetifolia

It is interesting to plant Casuarina by the sea, because it has a strong resistance to high winds and can thus be used as a windbreak. Casuarina equisetifolia can be used as a pioneer tree to repopulate a relatively sparse or completely destroyed area, after a forest fire for example. Due to the impressive heights it can reach, plant Casuarina at a distance of at least 30 feet from buildings. In addition to the turnip moth that willingly eats Casuarina, this plant also attracts swift moths that attack it by first embedding themselves into the trunk. Organic insecticides such as biocide are highly effective to get rid of these parasites.

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Published in Exotic trees by Alexander on 06 Jul 2011