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Datasheet

Casuarina equisetifolia (casuarina)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 03 January 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Casuarina equisetifolia
  • Preferred Common Name
  • casuarina
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • C. equisetifolia is a fast growing species with prolific seeding ability which is able to take advantage of disturbed sites for colonization. Where it establishes it may form dense, low biodiversity stands with...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Naturally occurring trees at Wah Wee Beach, west Arnheim Land, Northern Territory, Australia.
TitleSubsp. equisetifolia
CaptionNaturally occurring trees at Wah Wee Beach, west Arnheim Land, Northern Territory, Australia.
CopyrightMaurice McDonald/CSIRO Forestry & Forest Products
Naturally occurring trees at Wah Wee Beach, west Arnheim Land, Northern Territory, Australia.
Subsp. equisetifoliaNaturally occurring trees at Wah Wee Beach, west Arnheim Land, Northern Territory, Australia.Maurice McDonald/CSIRO Forestry & Forest Products
Planted to stabilize moving sand in central Vietnam.
TitleYoung trees
CaptionPlanted to stabilize moving sand in central Vietnam.
CopyrightK. Pinyopusarerk/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Product
Planted to stabilize moving sand in central Vietnam.
Young treesPlanted to stabilize moving sand in central Vietnam.K. Pinyopusarerk/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Product
In Asia leaf litter from plantations is often removed as fuel.
TitlePlantation
CaptionIn Asia leaf litter from plantations is often removed as fuel.
CopyrightK. Pinyopusarerk/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Product
In Asia leaf litter from plantations is often removed as fuel.
PlantationIn Asia leaf litter from plantations is often removed as fuel.K. Pinyopusarerk/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Product
Bako National Park, Sarawak.
TitleTrunk of subsp. equisetifolia
CaptionBako National Park, Sarawak.
CopyrightKron Aken/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products
Bako National Park, Sarawak.
Trunk of subsp. equisetifoliaBako National Park, Sarawak.Kron Aken/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products
Branch showing female flowers
TitleBranch showing female flowers
Caption
CopyrightK. Pinyopusarerk/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Product
Branch showing female flowers
Branch showing female flowersK. Pinyopusarerk/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Product
Male flowers
TitleMale flowers
Caption
CopyrightK. Pinyopusarerk/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Product
Male flowers
Male flowersK. Pinyopusarerk/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Product
Cones on branches
TitleCones on branches
Caption
CopyrightK. Pinyopusarerk/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Product
Cones on branches
Cones on branchesK. Pinyopusarerk/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Product
Root nodules
TitleRoot nodules
Caption
CopyrightPaul Reddell/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products
Root nodules
Root nodulesPaul Reddell/CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products
1. habit of young tree
2. flowering twig
3. part of branchlet
4. male and female inflorescence
5. infructescence (cone)
6. fruit (samara)
TitleLine artwork
Caption1. habit of young tree 2. flowering twig 3. part of branchlet 4. male and female inflorescence 5. infructescence (cone) 6. fruit (samara)
CopyrightPROSEA Foundation
1. habit of young tree
2. flowering twig
3. part of branchlet
4. male and female inflorescence
5. infructescence (cone)
6. fruit (samara)
Line artwork1. habit of young tree 2. flowering twig 3. part of branchlet 4. male and female inflorescence 5. infructescence (cone) 6. fruit (samara) PROSEA Foundation

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Casuarina equisetifolia L. (1759)

Preferred Common Name

  • casuarina

Variety

  • Casuarina equisetifolia var. souderi

Other Scientific Names

  • Casuarina africana Lour.
  • Casuarina brunoniana Miq.
  • Casuarina excels Dehnh. ex Miq.
  • Casuarina indica
  • Casuarina lateriflora Poir.
  • Casuarina litorea L.
  • Casuarina littorea Oken
  • Casuarina littorea var. souderi (Fosberg) Fosberg & Sachet
  • Casuarina mertensiana Rupr. ex Miq.
  • Casuarina repens Hoffmanns.
  • Casuarina truncata Willd.

International Common Names

  • English: Australian beefwood; Australian oak; Australian pine; beach casuarinas; beach she-oak; beefwood; casuarinas; coast ironwood; coast she-oak; horsetail beefwood; horsetail tree; ironwood; she-oak; swamp oak; whistling pine; whistling tree
  • Spanish: árbol de hierro; árbol de la tristeza; casuarina; casuarina cola de caballo; palo de buey; pino australiano; pino de Australia; pino de Chipre; pino real
  • French: arbe de fer; arbre de fer; bois de fer; bois pin d’ Australie; Casuarine a feuilles de prele; filao; filao bord-de-mer; filao-pays; pin d'Australie
  • Chinese: mu ma huang; pu tong mu ma huang

Local Common Names

  • Bahamas: beef-wood
  • Brazil: cavalinho; chorao; pinheiro
  • Cuba: casuarina de la nueva Holanda; pino cipres; pino de Holanda
  • Ethiopia: arzelibanos; shewshewe
  • Fiji: nakure; nggaro; nokonoko; nokonoko ndamu; qaro; thau; velau
  • French Polynesia: 'aito
  • Germany: Schachtelhalmblaettriger Kaenguruhbaum; Strand- Kasuarine
  • Guam: gago; gagu
  • Haiti: bius pin d’Australie
  • India: casuarina; jangli saru; jau; savukku
  • Indonesia: cemara laut; jemara laut
  • Italy: casuarina
  • Jamaica: willow
  • Japan: mokumao; ogasawa matsu
  • Laos: son th'ale
  • Lesser Antilles: filao; mile tree; she aok
  • Malaysia: ru; ru laut
  • Marshall Islands: mejinoki
  • Myanmar: tin yu
  • Netherlands: kazuarisboom
  • Palau: agas; agasu; ngas; ngasu
  • Papua New Guinea: yar
  • Philippines: agoho
  • Puerto Rico: pino australiano
  • Sri Lanka: kasa ghas
  • Thailand: son thale
  • Tonga: toa
  • Vietnam: phi lao

EPPO code

  • CSUEQ (Casuarina equisetifolia)

Subspecies

  • Casuarina equisetifolia subsp. equisetifolia
  • Casuarina equisetifolia subsp. incana

Trade name

  • beefwood
  • ironwood

Summary of Invasiveness

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C. equisetifolia is a fast growing species with prolific seeding ability which is able to take advantage of disturbed sites for colonization. Where it establishes it may form dense, low biodiversity stands with negative impacts on native flora, fauna, soil character and dynamics. It is reported to be invasive in a number of countries and is a particular problem in Florida and South Africa, and reportedly invasive elsewhere, e.g. Brazil and the Caribbean. Binggeli (1999) regards this species as highly invasive. It is classed as a category 1 pest plant on the Florida exotic pest plant council species list, meaning that it alters native plant communities (Miller et al. 2002). Henderson (2001) reports that it is listed as a category 2 invader in South Africa according to the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act, 1983 where it is a potential 'transformer' of coastal dunes and sandy sea-shores. It is invasive along coasts in Puerto Rico, but is classed as a relatively low category of problem there (Federal Highway Administration, 2001); however, Francis and Liogier (1991) anticipate that while it is currently restricted to relatively small areas of Puerto Rican coasts and foothills it will eventually become common. Across the Caribbean it has also been reported invasive in Jamaica (IABIN, 2004), Dominican Republic (IABIN, 2003), Bahamas (Hammerton, 2001; BEST Commission, 2003). This species is classified as highly invasive by Binggelli (1999).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Casuarinales
  •                         Family: Casuarinaceae
  •                             Genus: Casuarina
  •                                 Species: Casuarina equisetifolia

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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C. equisetifolia was first described in Amoen. Acad. 4: 143 (1759). The name is derived from the Latin equinus - pertaining to horses, and folium - a leaf, in reference to the fine drooping twigs which are reminiscent of (coarse) horse hair. Two subspecies, equisetifolia and incana, are recognized (Wilson and Johnson, 1989), with the former more widely distributed. The epithet incana is derived from the Latin incanus - hoary or white, alluding to the very tomentose young shoots. Subsp. equisetifolia hybridizes readily with C. junghuhniana in cultivation.

Description

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In Australia, C. equisetifolia subsp. equisetifolia is mainly a small tree, 8-16 m tall, in contrast to populations in South-East Asia where the tree may attain heights of 35 m with diameters to 50 cm. The subsp. incana is typically a small tree and may be reduced to only a large shrub 6-10 m tall on poor sites. Form in wild populations is very variable, varying from crooked, low branching trees on exposed sea shores, to straight-stemmed forest trees in more sheltered situations. Crowns are finely branched. The bark is light grey-brown, smooth on small trunks, becoming rough and thick furrowed on older trees. Encircling bands of lenticels are prominent on young bark. The inner bark is reddish and astringent (Doran and Turnbull, 1997). Twigs are drooping, needle-like, furrowed, 1-2.5 mm in diameter and 23-38 cm long and angular to rounded in cross-section, glabrous or pubescent. The minute teeth-like reduced leaves are in whorls of 7-8 per node. Male flowers occur on simple terminal, elongated spikes 7-40 mm long and are arranged in whorls with 7-11.5 whorls per cm of spike. Female flowers are borne on lateral woody branches. The 'cones' are globose to short- to long- cylindrical, 10-35 mm long, 9-15 mm diameter, with acute bracteoles more or less protruding from the surface of the cone. Fruitlets bear a single, dull brown samara 6-8 mm long. In subsp. incana the young shoots and 'cones' are frequently covered in a fine white pubescence.

Plant Type

Top of page Perennial
Seed propagated
Tree
Woody

Distribution

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C. equisetifolia subsp. equisetifolia occurs naturally along the tropical coastlines from northern Queensland and Northern Territory in Australia, throughout the whole Malesian region to the Kra Isthmus of Thailand and adjoining coastal areas of the Andaman Sea in southern Myanmar, which is the westernmost distribution range. To the east its natural occurrence extends throughout Melanesia and Polynesia (Pinyopusarerk and House, 1993). This distribution covers a latitude range of 40 degrees between 20°N and 20°S. Subsp. incana has a much narrower distribution extending from the coastlines of central New South Wales to north Queensland in Australia, and in Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

BangladeshPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
Brunei DarussalamPresentNativeWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
CambodiaPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
ChinaPresentIntroducedTurnbull, 1983; World Agroforestry Centre, 2002
-FujianPresentIntroduced
-GuangdongPresentIntroduced
-GuangxiPresentIntroduced
-HainanPresentIntroduced
-Hong KongPresentIntroduced
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)PresentNativePIER, 2002
Cocos IslandsPresentNativePIER, 2002
IndiaPresentIntroduced1860sKondas, 1983; Pinyopusarerk, 1996; Binggeli, 1997; World Agroforestry Centre, 2002
-Andhra PradeshPresentIntroduced
-DelhiPresentIntroduced
-GujaratPresentIntroduced
-KarnatakaPresentIntroduced
-KeralaPresentIntroduced
-Madhya PradeshPresentIntroduced
-MaharashtraPresentIntroduced
-OdishaPresentIntroduced
-Tamil NaduPresentIntroduced
-Uttar PradeshPresentIntroduced
-West BengalPresentIntroduced
IndonesiaPresentNativeWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
-JavaPresentIntroduced
IraqPresentIntroduced
IsraelPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
JapanPresentNative Invasive Cronk and Fuller, 1995
-HonshuPresentIntroduced
LaosPresentIntroduced
MalaysiaPresentNativeWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentNative
-SabahPresentNative
-SarawakPresentNative
MyanmarPresentNativeWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002`
PakistanPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
PhilippinesPresentNativeWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
SingaporePresentIntroduced
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedVivekanandan, 1983; World Agroforestry Centre, 2002
TaiwanPresentIntroducedChang, 1995
ThailandPresentNativePongpanich et al., 1996; World Agroforestry Centre, 2002
TurkeyPresentIntroduced
VietnamPresentNativeChu and Kha, 1996; Phi, 1996; World Agroforestry Centre, 2002
YemenPresentIntroducedBilaidi, 1978

Africa

AlgeriaPresentIntroduced
BeninPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
BotswanaPresentIntroducedBuss, 2002
Burkina FasoPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
CameroonPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
Cape VerdePresentIntroduced
Central African RepublicPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
ChadPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
CongoPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
Côte d'IvoirePresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
DjiboutiPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
EgyptPresentIntroducedEl-Lakany and Yuness, 1996
EritreaPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
EthiopiaPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
GabonPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
GambiaPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
GhanaPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
GuineaPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
Guinea-BissauPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
KenyaPresentIntroducedKimondo, 1996; World Agroforestry Centre, 2002
LiberiaPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
MadagascarPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
MalawiPresentIntroduced
MaliPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
MauritaniaPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
MauritiusPresentIntroducedMungroo and Tezoo, 2000
MoroccoPresentIntroduced
MozambiquePresentIntroduced
NamibiaPresentIntroduced
NigerPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
NigeriaPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
RéunionPresentIntroduced Invasive Cronk and Fuller, 1995
RwandaPresentIntroduced
SenegalPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
SeychellesPresentIntroduced
Sierra LeonePresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
SomaliaPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
South AfricaPresentIntroduced Invasive Henderson, 2001; World Agroforestry Centre, 2002
SudanPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
-ZanzibarPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
TogoPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
TunisiaPresentIntroduced
UgandaPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
ZambiaPresentIntroduced
ZimbabwePresentIntroduced

North America

BermudaPresentIntroduced Invasive
MexicoPresentIntroduced
USAPresentIntroduced1825 Invasive Cronk and Fuller, 1995; Luken and Thieret, 1997; World Agroforestry Centre, 2002
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced
-FloridaPresentIntroduced Invasive Geary, 1983; Cronk and Fuller, 1995
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced1882 Invasive Cronk and Fuller, 1995; Hammerton, 2001; World Agroforestry Centre, 2002
-South CarolinaPresentIntroduced

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
BahamasPresentIntroduced Invasive Cronk and Fuller, 1995; Hammerton, 2001; World Agroforestry Centre, 2002
BarbadosPresentIntroduced Invasive Elfers, 1988
BelizePresentIntroducedBalick et al., 2000
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Guana, Tortola, Virgin Gorda
Cayman IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Costa RicaPresentIntroduced
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive World Agroforestry Centre, 2002; González-Torres et al., 2012
DominicaPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedIABIN, 2003a; World Agroforestry Centre, 2002
El SalvadorPresentIntroducedBerendsohn et al., 2009
GrenadaPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
GuatemalaPresentIntroduced
HaitiPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
HondurasPresentIntroduced
JamaicaPresentIntroduced Invasive IABIN, 2003b; World Agroforestry Centre, 2002
MartiniquePresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
MontserratPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
Netherlands AntillesPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
NicaraguaPresentIntroduced
PanamaPresentIntroducedCorrea et al., 2004
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Francis and Liogier, 1991; Parrotta, 1993; Federal Highway Administration, 2001
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
Saint LuciaLocalisedIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002; Daltry, 2009; Graveson, 2012Localized where planted
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
Turks and Caicos IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Davey, 2012
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive World Agroforestry Centre, 2002St. John; St. Thomas

South America

BoliviaPresentIntroducedKilleen et al., 1993
BrazilPresentIntroduced Invasive
ColombiaPresentIntroduced
EcuadorPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Galapagos IslandsPresentPIER, 2002
PeruPresentIntroduced
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedHokche et al., 2008

Europe

CyprusPresentIntroduced
FrancePresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-CorsicaPresentIntroduced
ItalyPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013
PortugalPresentIntroduced
-MadeiraPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013
SpainPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2013

Oceania

American SamoaPresentPIER, 2002
AustraliaPresentNativeDahl, 1996
-New South WalesPresentNative
-QueenslandPresentNative
Cook IslandsPresentNativePIER, 2002
FijiPresentNativePIER, 2002; World Agroforestry Centre, 2002
French PolynesiaPresentNative Invasive PIER, 2002
GuamPresentNativePIER, 2002
KiribatiPresentNativePIER, 2002
Marshall IslandsPresentPIER, 2002
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentPIER, 2002
NauruPresentNative Invasive PIER, 2002
New CaledoniaPresentNative
New ZealandPresentIntroducedWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
NiuePresentPIER, 2002
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentPIER, 2002
PalauPresentPIER, 2002
Papua New GuineaPresentNativeWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
SamoaPresentNativePIER, 2002; World Agroforestry Centre, 2002
Solomon IslandsPresentNativeWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002
TongaPresentNativePIER, 2002; World Agroforestry Centre, 2002
VanuatuPresentNativeWorld Agroforestry Centre, 2002

History of Introduction and Spread

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C. equisetifolia has been introduced to more than 60 countries and is now a common feature of the coastal landscape of most tropical and subtropical countries, where it is often naturalized. These include Caribbean islands, Mexico, Central and South America, West and East Africa and elsewhere in Asia. Extensive plantations have been established in China, Cuba, India, Kenya, Puerto Rico, Thailand, Vietnam and many countries in Africa.

C. equisetifolia was introduced to the mainland USA before 1825 (Luken and Thieret, 1997), and was naturalized around the early 1900s (Anon., 2002). Binggeli (1997) reports that the hurricanes of 1960 and 1965 promoted the expansion of this species in the Everglades, Florida, USA by creating large areas of disturbed ground. It also occurs widely on all the Hawaiian islands where its introduction may date back to 1882 (Cronk and Fuller, 1995).

Risk of Introduction

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C. equisetifolia is a serious problem in Florida, South Africa and the Bahamas. It is also reported invasive in several other countries with varying degrees of severity. Other species within the genus are also invasive and it is regarded as a cause of serious environmental problems. The wide introduction of C. equisetifolia across many tropical and subtropical countries may constitute a risk of future invasion events.

Habitat

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C. equisetifolia may form pure stands on coastal dunes growing over a ground cover of dune grasses and broadleaved herbs, or can be part of a richer association of trees and shrubs collectively termed the Indo-Pacific strand flora. Tree associates in this vegetation include Barringtonia asiatica, Calophyllum inophyllum, Eugenia sp., Heritiera littoralis, Hibiscus tiliaceus, Pongamia glabra, Thespesia populnea and Pandanus sp. (Champion, 1936; Doran and Turnbull, 1997). In Australia it also grows in narrow belts adjacent to mangrove forests or scattered in open woodlands dominated by eucalypts. According to Binggeli (1997), C. equisetifolia is usually the only woody species present in beach vegetation in its native range. It may be found growing with grasses and herbs or with eucalypts (Binggeli, 1997).

In southern Florida, USA where it is an introduced invasive, C. equisetifolia occurs in mangroves, along rocky shores and sandy beaches, in pine forests and in the Everglades (Westbrooks, 1998, Elfers 1998). Seedlings are able to colonize disturbed sites such as roadsides, wasteland, and filled wetlands (Elfers 1998). PIER (2002) notes its ability to tolerate salt and to grow on limestone and volcanic soils, and Binggeli (1997) associates it with coastal herbaceous swamp and broad-leaved hammock communities, but notes poor survival where there is regular, long-term flooding. In South Africa, it invades coastal dunes and sandy beaches (Henderson, 2001).

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-managed
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Natural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

Until recently there has been little research on genetic variation. Coordinated international provenance trials of subsp. equisetifolia commenced in 1992 with 40 trials established in 20 countries by 1995 (Pinyopusarerk et al., 1995). These trials have displayed large phenotypic variation between populations, e.g. in growth rates, branching habits and age to first flowering. A 2-year assessment of a trial at Ratchaburi, Thailand showed Malaysian, Thailand and Papua New Guinea sources to be the highest ranked for growth rates of the natural provenances, while Indian, Chinese and Vietnamese sources were the best, on average, of the land races (Pinyopusarerk et al., 1996a). Outstanding growth rates of provenances from Malaysia and Thailand have also been reported in Kenya (Kimondo, 1996). However, trials in Egypt (El-Lakany and Yuness, 1996) and Vietnam (Phi Quang Dien, 1996) showed somewhat different results suggesting a likely genotype x site interaction. The Australian Tree Seed Centre of CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products has a comprehensive collection of seed material collected from 67 sites in 22 countries. A breeding program of C. equisetifolia in India using a large number of individual trees from this international collection is currently underway (Pinyopusarerk, 1996).

Physiology and Phenology

C. equisetifolia has a lifespan of 40-50 years and displays rapid early growth rates (about 2-3m per annum in height) in cultivation. Although it is an evergreen species, C. equisetifolia sheds a large amount of twigs throughout the year. Shoot growth is generally active for much of the year except during cool and dry months. In areas where there is pronounced wet and dry season, flowering and fruiting are more regular and occur once or twice per year (Troup, 1921). Where there is no distinct wet or dry season, flowering and fruiting tend to be irregular and may occur throughout the year. The fruits on one tree do not all mature at the same time, often presenting a problem for seed collection. Elfers (1998) cites material describing a general inability to root sucker and poor coppicing except from stumps greater than 1m tall.

Reproductive Biology

Although trees in natural stands are reported to be mostly monoecious, with male and female flowers separate but borne on the same tree, most cultivated populations are predominantly dioecious (Dorairaj and Wilson, 1981; Luechanimitchit and Luangviriyasaeng, 1996). The age to first flowering varies from 2 to 5 years (Parrotta, 1993). Pollination is by wind. Female cones mature about 18-20 weeks after anthesis, and will release small samara (winged seeds) within 3 days when dried under full sun. A kilogram of cones (about 250 cones) yields 20-60 g of seed (Kondas, 1983; Parrotta, 1993). There are about 650,000-760,000 seeds/kg but on average only 270,000 of these seeds are viable (Turnbull and Martensz, 1983). The fruits on one tree do not all mature at the same time. Binggeli (1997) reports that viability lasts only a few months and that germination range is in the order 30-87%.

Environmental Requirements

Within the natural range of subsp. equisetifolia, the climate is hot humid to hot sub-humid, while subsp. incana inhabits mainly the warm sub-humid zone. Frosts are absent, although where subsp. incana occurs there may be 1-3 frosts per year within a few kilometres of the sea. It naturally occurs between 0-100 m altitude, but has been planted up to 1500 m. Temperatures are warm throughout the year with the mean maximum of the hottest month 30-35°C. In Australia, the mean minimum of the coolest month varies from 19.5°C at Darwin to mainly 10-16°C along the Queensland coast south of Cairns and as low as 6°C on parts of the northern coast of New South Wales. In its introduced range it grows well where the mean annual temperature is 18-28°C during the hottest month and 10-20°C during the coldest month. In southern India, the mean maximum of the hottest month is 37-47°C, while the mean minimum decreases to 7-17°C. Over most of its distribution, C. equisetifolia occurs in areas receiving a mean annual rainfall of 1000-2500 mm with a distinct wet and dry season. When cultivated, it will thrive in a wider range of rainfall, from less than 350 mm to 5000 mm per annum (Troup, 1921; Pinyopusarerk and House, 1993). A modified description of climatic requirements (see climatic data table of this data sheet) was prepared by CSIRO (Booth and Jovanovic, 2000).

C. equisetifolia is commonly confined to a narrow strip adjacent to sandy shores rarely extending inland to lower hills (e.g. in Fiji). It is found on sand dunes, in sands alongside estuaries behind foredunes and gentle slopes near the sea. It may be found at the leading edge of dune vegetation, subject to salt spray and inundation with sea water at extremely high tides. Subsp. incana has been recorded growing on rocky headlands up to 30 m above sea level. Soils are well drained and rather coarse textured, principally sands, of 2 m or more in depth, often covering a more moisture-retentive layer of sandy loam. The species tolerates both calcareous and slightly alkaline soils but is intolerant of prolonged waterlogging. It grows well in soils with a pH from 5.0 to 9.5 (Yadav et al., 1977; National Research Council, 1984; CATIE, 1991). It has been successfully grown in dune sands, (Maheut and Dommergues, 1959; Chu and Kha, 1996) tin-mine spoils (Esbenshade and Grainger, 1980; Thaiutsa, 1990) and sterile pumice (National Research Council, 1984).

Associations

C. equisetifolia may form pure stands on the coastal dunes growing over a ground cover of dune grasses and broadleaved herbs, or can be part of a richer association of trees and shrubs collectively termed the Indo-Pacific strand flora. Tree associates in this vegetation include Barringtonia asiatica, Calophyllum inophyllum, Eugenia sp., Heritiera littoralis, Hibiscus tiliaceus, Pongamia glabra, Thespesia populnea and Pandanus sp. (Champion, 1936; Doran and Turnbull, 1997). In Australia it also grows in narrow belts adjacent to mangrove forests or scattered in open woodlands dominated by eucalypts. C. equisetifolia is a nitrogen-fixing tree and has an ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen by nodulation with the actinorhizal symbiont, Frankia (National Research Council, 1984). These root nodules can be prolific.

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
20 -32 0 1500

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) 5
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 21 29
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 30 40
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 10 24

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration06number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall3503500mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Summer
Winter

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light

Special soil tolerances

  • saline

Notes on Natural Enemies

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World Agroforestry Centre (2002) states that herbivore and pathogen attack is relatively unusual in this species except in hostile sites. The most serious pathogen affecting C. equisetifolia is blister bark disease. Infected trees die rapidly after exhibiting symptoms of foliar wilt and cracking of the bark where blisters develop enclosing a black powdery mass of spores (Bakshi, 1976). Blister bark disease is associated with the fungus Trichosporum vesiculosum [Subramanianospora vesiculosa]. The disease was first reported in Orissa State, India. It has since been recorded in Sri Lanka, from all of the peninsular states of India, and from Mauritius and Indonesia. It has been observed in Thailand (Pongpanich et al., 1996), Vietnam (Sharma, 1994) and India (Boa E, Ritchie B, CABI Bioscience, personal communication, 1998), on dead and dying C. equisetifolia at Hosakote Research Station, Karnataka, India. Bacterial wilt, associated with Pseudomonas solanacearum [Ralstonia solanacearum], causes yellowing foliage and wilting and death has been reported in China and India (Liang and Chen, 1982). Other serious recorded diseases include serious stem cankers and dieback caused by Phomopsis casuarinae, and Botryosphaeria ribis and pink disease (Corticium salmonicolor [Phanerochaete salmonicolor]) (Pongpanich et al., 1996). Brown rot caused by Phellinus noxius is causing tree decline in Taiwan (Chang, 1995).

Over 50 species of insects are known to feed on the species, but serious pest problems have not occurred. A borer beetle, Sinoxylon anale, girdles small stems (about 1cm in diameter), causing them to break at the point of attack (Pinyopusarerk et al., 1996b). World Agroforestry Centre (2002) lists several other herbivores including casuarina tussock moth Lymantria xylina, white spotted long-horm beetle Anoplophora macularia, cotton locust Chondracis rosea and the wood borers Zeuzera spp. and Hypsiptla robusta. Ants may behave as seed predators, for example in Puerto Rico (e.g. Binggeli, 1997). In Puerto Rico, casuarina is the host for many insect species from the orders Coleoptera, Homoptera, Isoptera, Lepidoptera and Orthoptera (Martorell, 1975). In Cuba, insects which damage in plantations include the stem and twig borer Apate monachus, leaf cutting ant Atta insularis, Australian pine spittle-bug Clastoptera undulata and the cottony cushion scale Icerya purchasi. In Florida, USA minor damage is caused by the twig girdler Onicederes cingulata, the thorn bug Umbonia crassicornis, Australian pine spittle bug C. undulata and the leaf notcher weevil Artipus floridanus.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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The winged samaras are dispersed mainly by wind. Some dispersal of seed (in cones or after release from cones) may be affected by water, ensuring the spread of the species along sea shores. Birds including parrots and parakeets can disperse seeds (Anon., 2003). In Australia, the fruits of all species of Casuarina are a major food source for several species of parrot (Schodde et al., 1993). Referring to Casuarina species in general, Snyder (1992) states that seeds may be transported by animals. It is reported that seeds of several of the Casuarina species have been mislabelled and that this has contributed to some confusion over the identification of different species /hybrids etc. (Elfers, 1988). C. equisetifolia has been widely introduced into many tropical and subtropical countries because of its many uses.

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) Negative
Crop production None
Environment (generally) Negative
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production None
Human health None
Livestock production None
Native fauna Negative
Native flora Negative
Rare/protected species Negative
Tourism None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None

Economic Impact

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The control of Casuarina is costly. In some areas, e.g. the Everglades, Florida, USA, the control of well-established areas of Casuarina is no longer economically viable (Elfers, 1988).

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

Sand dune and/or beach dynamics may be changed by C. equisetifolia invasion (Luken and Thieret, 1997); however, in Sarawak, the species is protected because of its importance in controlling coastal erosion. Swearingen (1997) states that it can increase the rate of coastal erosion because it is more prone than native Florida vegetation to being blown down in hurricane conditions. According to Smith (1998), the lack of understorey vegetation has also been considered to be a result of soil nutrient changes or allelopathy. Microhabitat changes are effected, e.g. of light, temperature, soil chemistry (Swearingen, 1997).

Impact on Biodiversity

In Florida, USA, C. equisetifolia has colonized disturbed native vegetation formations and interfered in the nesting of sea turtles on foreshore dunes (Geary, 1983), sometimes resulting in the death of adult turtles (Binggeli, 1997). The species affected are Caretta caretta (a sea turtle) and the American crocodile Crocodylus acutus (Cronk and Fuller, 1995). C. equisetifolia sheds a large amount of twigs throughout the year. The high rate of litter deposition, fast growth and intense shade impedes the growth of the native flora (Anon., 2002, Weber 2003) and so it is often noted that the species occurs in single-species stands, with little or no understorey (e.g. Smith, 1998). According to Smith (1998) the lack of understorey vegetation has also been considered to be a result of soil nutrient changes or allelopathy.

In Cuba, C. equisetifolia is considered one of the worst invasive species impacting the island. On this island, leaf litter of C. equisetifolia is increasing soil acidification to levels that may be toxic to nearby plants (Gonzalez-Torres et al., 2012). In Puerto Rico, C. equisetifolia is impacting sandy beaches used as “nesting sites” by the endangered species Eretmochelys imbricata (hawksbill turtle; Dam et al., 1992) and Cyclura cornuta stejnegeri (Mona Island rock iguana; Pérez-Buitrago and Sabat, 2007). In the Turks and Caicos Islands, areas invaded by C. equisetifolia exhibited lower native plant species richness than intact ones (Davey, 2012).  

Social Impact

Top of page Henderson (2001) reports that the flowers can be a respiratory irritant. Binggeli (1997) reports a number of social impacts including reduced access because dense stands can be difficult to walk through and danger to people and property from falling trees in hurricane conditions.

Risk and Impact Factors

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Uses

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The most common uses of C. equisetifolia are for sand dune stabilization, shelterbelts, land reclamation and erosion control. Many areas of occurrence are susceptible to tropical cyclones or typhoons and the general tolerance to strong winds has encouraged the use in protective plantings. First year plantations in India are often under-planted with peanuts, sesame, pulses, cucumbers or melons. C. equisetifolia is used for the revegetation of tailings following open cut bauxite mining in north Queensland, Australia (Dahl, 1996). It is widely planted on sandy soils in coastal China and Vietnam, providing fuelwood, protection against winds and shifting dunes and a stable base for agriculture (Turnbull, 1983; Midgley et al., 1997).

The wood is hard and heavy and is highly regarded as a fuel producing high quality charcoal. The heartwood is dull reddish brown and not easily distinguished from the pinkish sapwood. Rays are prominent on the radial faces of sawn timber. It is difficult to use for fine carpentry. Seasoning is accompanied by heavy and relatively uneven shrinkage. The logs are very difficult to saw in small circular saw mills and air-dried timber is difficult to machine because of its density and hardness. Poles are popular as masts for fishing boats, boat oars, piles, posts and tool handles. In India, the wood is a source of wood fibre for production of paper pulp and as a raw material for rayon fibres (Varghese and Sivaramakrishna, 1996). The wood is very susceptible to attack by the dry-wood termite Cryptotermes brevis and has only limited durability unless treated with preservatives (Wolcott, 1946; Longwood, 1961; Doran and Hall, 1983).

Root extracts are used for medical treatment of dysentery, diarrhoea and stomachache. In western Malaysia, a decoction of the twigs is used for treating swelling and the powdered bark is used for treating acne. In New Zealand, the bark and twigs are used in the treatment beriberi disease by the native people (CATIE, 1991). C. equisetifolia bark contains 6-18% tannin and was used extensively in Madagascar for tanning purposes. It is also used for dyeing fishnets. In China, and elsewhere in Asia, leaf litter is often removed from plantations and used as fuel.

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Agroforestry
  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Revegetation
  • Shade and shelter
  • Soil improvement
  • Windbreak

Fuels

  • Charcoal
  • Fuelwood

General

  • Ornamental

Materials

  • Carved material
  • Dye/tanning
  • Fibre
  • Miscellaneous materials
  • Wood/timber

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical

Wood Products

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Boats

Charcoal

Other cellulose derivatives

Railway sleepers

Roundwood

  • Building poles
  • Piles

Sawn or hewn building timbers

  • Exterior fittings
  • Fences
  • For light construction
  • Shingles
  • Wall panelling

Textiles

Woodware

  • Industrial and domestic woodware
  • Tool handles

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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According to World Agroforestry Centre (2002) this species forms hybrids with C. glauca and C. junghuhniana in cultivation. Anon (2002) suggests that it may be confused with both C. glauca and C. cunninghamiana. However, in Florida trees of C. glauca seem to be shorter than trees of the other two species, and are quite distinctive because of the dense canopy of dark green needles that can be 12 inches or longer in length and because of the presence of root suckers (Castle, 2008).

Nodal morphology, particularly number of ‘teeth’ where the needles surround or clasp the stem, is a key identifying characteristic (Castle, 2008). C. cunninghamiana has 6 to 10 upright teeth that have light brown to gray tips with a brown transverse band about halfway between the tip of the tooth and its base. C. glauca can have more than 10 to 12 small, stout-looking teeth that appear crowded around the stem. Distinctive C. equisetifolia features are monoecious plants, usually prolific production of large cones, and the 6 to 8 teeth that are relatively large and light green to light yellow without any transverse banding.
 

Prevention and Control

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C. equisetifolia is sensitive to fire, however Weber (2003) comments that fire is only an effective control tool in areas where it grows at high density under dry conditions. According to Smith (1998), trees have a certain degree of protection from very hot fires because they generally suppress understorey vegetation. Smith (1998) also reports some recovery after fire from the basal shoots, although this species is generally regarded as a poorer coppicer than related species e.g. C. glauca. Swearingen (1997) recommends the regular removal of fallen leaves, cones and seeds and the planting of native species along disturbed beaches to reduce opportunities for C. equisetifolia colonization. In relation to the Casuarinas as a group, Elfers (1988) specified that disturbance of natural habitats should be minimized to reduce opportunities for colonization and where habitats had to be disturbed, swift replanting with indigenous vegetation was recommended. An alternative cultural approach was to counteract potential invasion by periodic flooding (Elfers, 1988).

Weber (2003) reports that seedlings and saplings may be removed manually. If trees are felled the stumps should subsequently be treated with a herbicide (e.g. trichlopyr) (Weber, 2003). Weber (2003) reports that adults can be sprayed with triclopyr applied to a band at the bottom of the stem. Elfers (1988) summarized control information for the Casuarinas as a group (i.e. C. equisetifolia, C. cunninghamiana, C. glauca) citing common methods of control including basal bark or squirt and hack application of a triclopyr-disel mixture. Elfers (1988) also described the injection of triclopyr, and if trees are felled the stumps should subsequently be treated with the same herbicide (Elfers, 1988; Weber, 2003).

Smith (1998) reports that on Hawaii, C. equisetifolia has not yet been evaluated for biological control because of conflicts of interest with its perceived uses. Swearingen (1997) reports a similar lack of a biological control agent for use in Florida, USA.

References

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10/07/13 Updated by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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