Drooping Sheoak

Description

Common names

Drooping Sheoak, Drooping Sheoke, Coast She-oak, Hill-oak, Sheoak.

Scientific names

Allocasuarina verticillata, Casuarina stricta.

Family

Casuarinaceae.

Genus

Allocasuarina.

Name origin

Allocasuarina, from Greek allo, other, and casuarina, referring to differences between Casuarina and Allocasuarina species. Verticillata, from Latin verto, I turn, in reference to leaves arranged in whorls, or seemingly so. Sheoak -named because wood is tough, durable and attractively grained, like European Oak.

Rainfall

500mm.

Growth rate

Slow, moderate.

Growth height

4-10m.

Presence in Australia

Quite widespread through most areas on the drier hill/rocky outcrops.

This specie has been identified in the following Australian states: Qld, NSW, ACT, Vic, Tas, SA.

Habitat

Grassy woodland, forming pure stands, or amongst eucalypts. Also on dry ridges on poor soils.

Habit

Small tree with rounded crown, 4-10m high.

Similar species

Distinguished from Bulloak (A. luehmannii) mainly by its larger cones, drooping habit and different habitat.

Site preference

Well-drained soil. Tolerates frost, drought, wind and some wetness.

Characteristics

Long-lived (50-100 years). Moderately slow-growing, although quick-growing when young. Moderately fire tolerant. Not prone to damaging insect activity. Produces large root nodules - habitat for micro-organisms that "fix" nitrogen. Dioecious (trees are male or female, with female trees producing cones).

Flowering

Yellow-brown male flower spikes. Red female flowers, Mar-Dec.

Seed collection

Generally throughout the year, as seeds retained in cones on trees for long periods. Collect cones when brown and full-sized, with valves still closed. Dry cones in paper bag to facilitate seed release. Sieve to separate from cones. Store seed in refrigerator to maintain viability, or sow fresh.

Propagation

From untreated seed (120-270 viable seeds per gram), which should germinate in 2-5 weeks at hot temperatures (up to 500C). Pale foliage and poor growth may result unless seedlings innoculated with soil bacterium (Frankia spp.) that can be obtained from the roots of parent trees. The bacterium occurs in fleshy and coral-like root nodules just beneath soil surface. Dig up small quantity of nodules and grind using mortar and pestle. Dilute in watering can and water seedlings.

Regeneration

From root suckers and seed. Also coppices to some extent. Highly palatable to livestock and rabbits, generally requiring protection to establish. Root suckers can be transplanted during winter when soil is moist. After fire, trees with burnt tops coppice, shoot from roots, or produce new crown shoots if damage is not severe. Establishes well when direct seeded.

Shade and shelter

Useful medium-level cover in windbreaks. The abundant, highly-branched twigs are excellent for absorbing wind. Open-grown trees provide good shade.

Land protection

Useful for erosion control due to suckering. Improves soil fertility through "fixing" nitrogen. Fallen leaves stabilise soil surface and decompose into rich humus. Useful in recharge plantings in hill country to reduce water entering watertable.

Fuel

Excellent. Produces glowing charcoal fire with little flame.

Timber

Reddish, heavy and easily split, machined and polished. Used as firewood and in turning. Was used for wheel spokes, bullock yokes, axe handles, staves, shingles, cabinet work and mine props. Durability in the ground is reduced under alternating wet and dry conditions.

Wildlife

Seeds eaten by birds such as cockatoos (including threatened Glossy Black cockatoo). Important for insect-eating birds. Older trees perching sites for birds of prey.

Koori

Boomerangs and digging sticks made from wood. Young shoots and cones were occasionally chewed or eaten.

Ornamental

Attractive foliage and bronze-coloured male flowers make this a useful specimen, particularly attractive in groups. Furrowed bark excellent for growing orchids on. Do not plant within 3m of plumbing to avoid clogged drains.

Other

Useful fodder. Withstands lopping well.