River Sheoak

Description

Common names

River Sheoak, River Oak, Creek Oak, Fire Oak.

Scientific names

Casuarina cunninghamiana subsp. cunninghamiana.

Family

Casuarinaceae.

Genus

Casuarina.

Name origin

Casuarina, from Malay Kasuari, from the fancied similarity of the foliage to the drooping feathers of Cassowary bird. Cunninghamiana, after Allan Cunningham (1791-1839), pioneering botanist, inland NSW.

Rainfall

550mm.

Growth rate

Very fast.

Growth height

15-35m.

Presence in Australia

Along Murrumbidgee River.

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

Habitat

Permanent freshwater streambanks, with roots in or close to water. May be dominant feature of river vegetation.

Habit

Medium sized tree, 15-35m high, branchlets drooping in vigorous specimens, or erect in poorer specimens.

Similar species

Closely related to C. glauca, which has larger cones and coarser foliage (not in region).

Site preference

Frost resistant and cold tolerant. Tolerates slight salinity.

Characteristics

Very fast-growing. Long-lived. Improves soil fertility by "fixing" nitrogen. Name is shortened to C. cunninghamiana in General Native Vegetation Profiles.

Flowering

Possibly any time of year.

Seed collection

Early autumn, before seeds shed. Collect cones by hand, or knock from the trees with poles. Refrigerate stored seed to retain viability.

Propagation

From untreated seed which should germinate easily in 2-5 weeks. Optimum germination temperature 300C. Can be direct sown into pots. Seedlings fast-growing and can be pricked out soon after germination. Easily handled. Innoculate seedlings with solution of crushed root nodules from beneath parent trees.

Regeneration

From seed, root suckers and coppice after fire. Seedlings highly palatable to livestock, hence fencing recommended to encourage regeneration. Young trees often grow in neat rank downstream from parent trees. Direct seeding at rates of 20-40 grams per km gives natural effect.

Shade and shelter

Excellent windbreak tree for medium to high-level cover.

Land protection

Very useful for protecting streambanks from erosion by binding banks. May sucker from roots to form colonies, desirable for erosion control.

Fuel

Excellent, burning hot and evenly. Ashes retain heat for long periods. Was used in bakers" ovens.

Timber

Decorative, pale-reddish or purplish-brown and fairly light and tough. Used in ornamental turnery and takes a good polish, although may be difficult to work. Straight-grained and fine-textured. Density about 900 kg/m3. Sawn timber may warp and twist excessively during seasoning. May last 15-25 years in ground. Was used to make shingles and staves.

Wildlife

Excellent habitat. Parrots extract seeds from cones. Finches eat seed before it is blown from cones. A range of birds nest in the foliage. Good pollen source.

Koori

Canoes made from large trees. Shelters made from branches.

Ornamental

Attractive graceful ornamental. Orchids can be grown on the bark.

Other

Useful drought fodder. A range of dyes produced from foliage depending on mordants used.