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Styx River, NSW

Tuross River, NSW

mature cones

Natural populations

This species comprises two subspecies [1,2]:

Subsp. cunninghamiana may be up to 35 m tall with a well-developed trunk, while subsp. miodon  does not attain the statue of the typical form being more straggly and only up to 12 m tall.

Flowering and seeds

This species is dioecious with male and female flowers on separate plants. Flowering occurs during February to March [3,4]. Female plants may bear woody cones in an indehiscent state for protracted periods but in tropical areas cones shed seed soon after maturation. There are about 700 viable seeds per gram; seeds start to germinate in about 5 days if grown at 25-35°C with no pretreatment required [4].

Cultivation and uses

Casuarina cunninghamiana is a tall, nitrogen fixing tree suitable for cultivation across a wide range of climates, extending from cool temperate areas to the seasonally dry tropics. Under cultivation it tolerates drought, seasonal waterlogging and slight to moderate salinity [5] but requires protection from grazing animals during the establishment phase. It has been used in agroforestry, particularly where shelterbelts area required to protect crops and livestock from wind, as it makes an excellent windbreak [2]. It is considered relatively slow growing but produces outstanding fuelwood. In some overseas countries the wood has been used to manufacture particleboard [2].

Key descriptors:
Subsp. cunninghamiana:
Climate parameters
Mean annual rainfall: 500-1500 mm
Rainfall distribution pattern: summer, uniform or winter
Mean annual temperature: 12-30 °C
Mean max. temperature of the hottest month: 25-40 °C
Mean min. temperature of the coldest month: 0-15 °C
Frosts (approx. no. per year): frost free or more or less frost free, up to 20 or greater than 20
Frost intensity: light to moderate (0 to -5°C) or severe or heavy (greater than -5°C)
Altitude: 0-1000 metres
Tolerance of climate extremes
Frost: tolerates frosts in the 0° to -5°C range or tolerates heavy frosts colder than -5°C
Biological traits under cultivation
Habit: evergreen tree 15-35 m talll, usually produces a clear trunk

Subsp. miodon:
Climate parameters
Mean annual rainfall: 900-1100 mm
Rainfall distribution pattern: summer
Mean annual temperature: 20-30 °C
Mean max. temperature of the hottest month: 35-40 °C
Mean min. temperature of the coldest month: 13-15 °C
Frosts (approx. no. per year): frost free or more or less frost free
Altitude: 0-200 metres
Biological traits under cultivation
Habit: evergreen tree 10-12 m tall

Key descriptors in common:
Soil factors
Texture: clay loam, heavy clay (greater than 50% clay), light to medium clay (35-50% clay), loam, sandy loam, sandy clay loam or sand
Soil pH reaction: acidic (less than 6.5) or neutral (6.5-7.5)
Soil depth: moderate to deep (30-100 cm or greater)
Drainage:  well-drained or seasonally waterlogged
Salinity: slightly to moderately saline
Biological traits under cultivation
Longevity: moderate to long lived (>15 years)
Coppicing ability: responds to pruning, pollarding
Root system: moderate to deep or fixes nitrogen via root symbiot
Growth rate: slow to moderate
Erosion control potential: excellent for clayey sites or excellent for sandy sites
Windbreak potential: excellent (known or has good attributes), tolerates salty coastal winds
Shade tolerance: grows best in full sunlight
Wood density: mod. to high (greater than 600 kg/cubic metre)
Carbon sequestration potential: moderate to high
Tolerance of climate extremes
Fire: regenerates foliage after damaging fire
Wind: known or has attributes to make an excellent windbreak, tolerates salt-laden coastal winds
Tolerance of adverse soils
Extremes in pH: acidity
Extremes in texture: clayey or sand
Salinity: moderate (-8 dS m-1) or slight (2-4 dS m-1)
Soil waterlogging tolerance: drainage may be sluggish at times
Uses
Potential farm use: excellent windbreak, good for fence posts, good ornamental attributes, shelterbelt or shade for stock
Specialty products: pollen has value for apiculture
Traditional Aboriginal uses: firewood, gum or resin (eaten or for adhesives), medicinal or weapons
Urban use: good as an ornamental or amenity plant or suitable as a screen or hedge
Wood products: boxes, crates, craftwood (for turnery etc.), flooring (including parquetry), high quality fuelwood, industrial charcoal, light construction, posts (including fencing) or speciality timber for quality furniture, wood composites
Potentially undesirable attributes
Foliage: highly susceptible to browsing by animals

References

[1] Boland DJ, Brooker MIH, Chippendale GM, Hall N, Hyland BPM, Johnson RD, Kleinig DA, McDonald MW, Turner JD (2006) Forest Trees of Australia. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.

[2] Doran JC, Turnbull JW (eds.) (1997) Australian Trees and Shrubs: species for land rehabilitation and farm planting in the tropics. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra [ACIAR books online: http://www.aciar.gov.au/publication/MN024]

[3] Clemson A (1985) Honey and Pollen Flora. Inkata Press, Melbourne.

[4] Gunn BV (2001) Australian Tree Seed Centre Operations Manual. Internal Publication, CSIRO Australian Tree Seed Centre, ACT. [Online at http://www.ensisjv.com/Portals/0/atsc-opmanualcomplete.pdf  Accessed March 2008]

[5] Marcar NE, Crawford DF (2004) Trees for Saline Landscapes. RIRDC Publication Number 03/108, Canberra.

Internet links

ABRS Species Bank: http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/species-bank/sbank-treatment2.pl?id=4948

PlantNET National Herbarium of New South Wales:http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Casuarina~cunninghamiana

Victorian Department of Primary Industry: http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au/ Search site as several documents may relate to this species.

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casuarina_cunninghamiana

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