Casuarina equisetifolia J.R. & G. Forst.
Syn: Casuarina litorea L.
Sheoak, Beefwood, Australian pine, Polynesian ironwood, Horsetail tree
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
- Chemical Analysis of Biomass Fuels
Extensively cultivated for fuel, erosion control, and as a windbreak. It can
be trimmed and used as a hedge. The bark, used for tanning, penetrates the
hide quickly, furnishing a fairly plump, pliant, soft leather of pale
reddish-brown color. With the neutral sulfite semichemical process, wood
yields a good pulp. The wood is used for beams, boatbuilding, electric poles,
fences, furniture, gates, house posts, mine props, oars, pavings, pilings,
rafters, roofing shingles, tool handles, wagon wheels, and yokes. The needles
have been employed in preparing active carbon by the zinc chloride method
(C.S.I.R., 19481976). Hill tribes of New Guinea use Casuarina in
rotation to restore nitrogen to the soil. They even use Casuarina oligodon
as a cover crop for coffee. Considering its unique ability to grow well,
even in highly eroded areas, Aspiras (1981) recommends it for Philippine barren
hills and watersheds. "It is not known to deplete the soil of important
nutrients unlike other fast-growing species now being grown in the countryside.
Aside from its ability to raise the N status of the soil when grown in
rotational agriculture or in stabilizing road embankments, it also produces
good quality timber of high energy value. It may even be raised as a nurse
plant to pine, just like Myrica, or planted between coconut trees for
its nitrogen and timber." (Aspiras, 1981). In the Philippines, this is
recognized as one of the best trees for planting in sites covered by Imperata
grass (NAS, 1983e). In Thailand it is planted along coastlines to produce the
poles used in building fish traps as well as fuelwood. In the Dominican
Republic, it has been used to reclaim stripmine lands. Egyptians plant the
trees along the coast to Protect houses from the wind and salt spray.
Reported to be astringent, diuretic, ecbolic, emmenagogue, laxative, and tonic,
beefwood is a remedy for beri-beri, colic, cough, diarrhea, dysentery,
headache, nerves, pimples, sores, sorethroat, stomachache, swellings, and
toothache (Duke and Wain, 1981). In Ternate, the seeds are used for passing
blood in diarrhea (Burkill, 1966).
Asparagine and glutamine accounted for 92% of the total amino acid in the
nodules. The bark contains 10% catchol tannin, the root 15%.
Tall evergreen tree to 30 m, the branches often drooping, sulcate, green, with
68 scalelike leaves. Internodes 57.5 mm long on the branchlets, only 2.5 mm
on main shoots. Main shoots minutely hairy, with small recurved scales ca 2.5
mm long, usually 8 in a whorl. Male spikes usually numerous, terminating the
branches on which the female "cones" are borne lower down, cylindric to
fusiform 1224 mm long. Female "cones" subglobose to ellipsoid, 1020 mm in
diameter. Seeds ca 660,000990,000/kg.
Reported from the Australian Center of Diversity, beefwood, or cvs thereof, is
reported to tolerate calcareous soils, drought, granitic soils, poor soil, salt
and salt spray, sand, waterlogging, and wind. In Kenya, it grows around cement
works, in Hawaii in sterile pumice, in Malaysia on sterile tin tailings, near
Hilo Bay on tidal rocks with its roots in salt water (NAS, 1983e). It is
sensitive to fire, grazing, and, in early stages, weed competition. Older
trees are problems in hurricanes. It is one of the most fire-sensitive of the
Casaurina species. Subspecies incana is a small tree possibly useful
for low growing shelter belts (NAS, 1983e) (2n = 18).
Said to be indigenous from Indonesia and Malaysia to India and Sri Lanka and to
north and northeast Australia, the Australian Pine is now one of the most
common trees on frost-free beaches anywhere in the world.
Ranging from Subtropical Thorn Woodland to Wet through Tropical Thorn to Wet
Forest Life Zone, Casuarina is reported to tolerate annual precipitation
of 6.4 to 43 dm (mean of 49 cases = 16.0) (but 250 possible, NAS, 1983e),
annual temperature of 22.1 to 26.9°C (mean of 34 cases = 25.2), and pH of
5.0 to 7.7 (mean of 2 cases = 6.4) (Duke, 1978, 1979).
Seeds have been successfully stored for 24 months at ca -7°C to 2°C with
moisture content of 616% (Ag. Handbook 450). In Hawaii seeds are broadcast in
spring and covered with less than 1 cm soil. Seedling density should be about
2132/1000 sq cm. Mulching is not required. Normally seedlings are raised in
nurseries to outplant taking advantage of the rainy season, 418 months after
sowing. Irrigation may be needed during dry periods over the first three
years. In new areas, seeds have to be inoculated. They should also be treated
to repel ants. Cuttings strike root readily. Trees are usually spaced 24 m
apart. WARNING: Casuarina can exhaust the soil moisture, lower the
water table, and restrict understory growth, leaving the soil exposed. Some
species are agressive weed species. Trees may die young under unfavorable
circumstances (C.S.I.R., 19481976). According to the National Academy of
Sciences, this has become an undesirable weed in Florida (NRC, 1982).
Although other Casuarinas coppice readily, this one does not.
Casuarina plantations are worked under a clear-felling system, with a
rotation of 735 years. Some estimates showed a long rotation (33 years) gave
greatest volume, but a shorter rotation (15 years) is preferred. In Madras
State, the plantations are worked with a short rotation of 715 years (usually
10 years), while in North Kanara a 30-year rotation is followed. From a purely
silvicultural consideration, the proper rotation appears to be 7 years. In
parts of the Philippines, this has outgrown Gmelina arborea and
Leucaena (NAS, 1983e).
With plants spaced 2 m apart, on a 710-year rotation, the trees may yield
75200 MT wood/ha, i.e. 1020 MT/ha/yr. Higher yields have been reported.
Citing literature yields of 58229 kg/ha/yr nitrogen, Aspiras (1981) notes that
Casuarina equisetifolia fixes 1,742 nmoles C2H4/24 hrs/g dry weight,
compared to 4,479 for Casuarina rumphiana, 4,545 for Casuarina
montana, 2,267 for Elaeagnus philippensis, 225 for Alnus
maritima, 626 for Alnus hepalensis, 7,242 for Coriaria
intermedia, and only 13 for Myrica javanica.
Litter fall from Casuarina littoralis is said to run 29 MT/ha/yr.
However, in China litterfall from C. equisetifolia is 4 MT/ha/yr with a
mean annual wood increment of 45 m3/ha (NRC, 1982).
5 year-old trees averaging ca 22 cm DBH, 6+ m tall yielded ca 14
In Puerto Rico, natural regeneration is rare because ants consume nearly all
the seeds; many trees are killed by disease. The Puerto Rican dieback of 1940,
followed by stemcanker, has been blamed on Diplodia natalensis. Nursery
seedlings in India are attacked by crickets (Brachutripes achatinus).
Other insect pests, e.g., Arbela tetraonis, the bark-eating caterpillar,
Celosterna scabrator, a longicorn, and grubs of the rhinoceros
beetle, Oryctes rhinoceros, also cause considerable damage to
plantations. Infection by the root fungus Trichosporium vesiculosum is
among the more serious diseases affecting Casuarina (favored by
excessive watering and congestion). Early thinning checks it to some extent.
Trees infected by insects and fungi should be removed and the stumps grubbed
up. Keeping an interval of two years between felling and replanting, and
planting of other trees such as Anacardium occidentale, Azadirachta indica,
Pithecellobium dulce, Pongamia glabra, Sapindus laurifolius, and
Syzygium cumini, along with Casuarina are recommended to segregate
the plants, minimizing the spread of infection. It also helps attract
insectivorous birds which are remarkably scarce in Casuarina. A
symbiotic fungus Phomopsis casuarinae F.Tassi has been recorded in all
organs of Casuarina (C.S.I.R., 19481976). Browne (1968) lists quite a
few diseases. Bacteria: PseudoNonas solanacearum. Fungi: Armillaria
mellea, Corticium salmonicolor, Fomes badius, Fomes durissimus, Fomes
fastuosus, Fomes senex, Ganoderma lucidum, Macrophomina phaseoli, Phoma
casuarinae, Phytophthora cambivora, Poria hypolateritia, Schizophyllum commune,
Sclerotium rolfsii, Trichosporum versiculosum, Ustulina deusta, Xylaria
hypoxylon. Nematodes include Helicotylenchus cavenessi, Radopholus
similes, Rotylenchulus reniformis, Tylenchus sp., Xiphinema
ifacolum. Angiospermae: Cuscuta campestris, Dendrophthoe falcata,
Dendrophthoe lanosa. Coleoptera: Amblyrrhinus poricollis, Anoplophora
chinensis, Celosterna scabrator, Ceresium furtivum, Cratopus punctum,
Cryptocephalus sehestedti, Doliopygus chapuisi, Doliopygus serratus, Hamartus
instabilis, Hypomeces squamosus, Hypothenemus birmanus, Lixus camerunus, Lixus
spinimanus, Myllocerus curvicornis, Myllocerus fabricii, Myllocerus sabulosus,
Myllocerus undecimpustulatus, Platypus hintzi, Sthenias grisator.
Hemiptera: Anoplocnemis tristator, Ceroplastes ceriferus, Clastoptera
undulata, Delococcus tafoensis, Duplaspidiotus tesseratus, Ferrisia virgata,
Halys dentatus, Icerya aegyptiace, Icerya formicarum, Icerya nigroareolata,
Icerya purchasi, Icerya seychellarum, Naiacoccus serpentinus, Nipaecoccus
vastator, Parthenolecanium persicae. Isoptera: Glyptotermes dilatatus,
Neotermes greeni, Odontotermes obesus, Odontotermes wallonensis,
Postelectrotermes militaris. Lepidoptera: Acanthopsyche reimeri,
Ascotis selenaria, Eumenodora tetrachorda, Eumeta crameri, E. variegata,
Indarbela quadrinotata, Indarbela tetraonis, Labdia xylinaula, Maruca
testulalis, Melasina energa, Metarmostis asaphaula, Sahyadrassus malabaricus,
Spodoptera litura, S. mauritia, Zeuzera coffeae. Orthoptera:
Brachytrupes portentosus, Gymnogryllus erythrocephalus, Gymnogryllus humeralis,
Analysing 62 kinds of biomass for heating value, Jenkins and Ebeling (1985)
reported a spread of 19.44 to 18.26 MJ/kg, compared to 13.76 for weathered rice
straw to 23.28 MJ/kg for prune pits. On a % DM basis, the wh. plant contained
78.94% volatiles, 1.40% ash, 19.66% fixed carbon, 48.61% C, 5.83% H, 43.36% O,
0.59% N, 0.02% S, 0.16% Cl, and undertermined residue.
10 year-old trees averaging ca 42 cm DBH, 11+ m tall yielded ca 28
15 year-old trees averaging ca 56 cm DBH, 16+ m tall yielded ca 54
20 year-old trees averaging ca 70 cm DBH, 24+ m tall yielded ca 94
25 year-old trees averaging ca 80 cm DBH, 31+ m tall yielded ca 140
30 year-old trees averaging ca 90 cm DBH, 35 m tall yielded ca 190
35 year-old trees averaging ca 96 cm DBH, 36+ m tall yielded ca
40 year-old trees averaging ca 100 cm DBH, 37+ m tall yielded ca 240
indicating yields of ca 6 cubic meters per year. Casuarina
equisetifolia fixes ca 60230 kg N/ha/yr (Aspiras, 1981). The wood,
burning with immense heat, even when green, has been called the best firewood
in the world. In India, it is used to fuel locomotives. It makes a good
charcoal. In China the wood is used for firing brick kilns. With a specific
gravity of 0.81.2, the wood has a calorific value of 4,959 kcal/kg (8,910
Btu). The charcoal has a calorific value of 7,181 kcals/kg, one of the highest
reported values. The yields of 1020 MT/ha/yr are roughly equivalent to 2550
barrels of oil/ha/yr.
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
Agriculture Handbook 450. 1974. Seeds of woody plants in the United States.
Forest Service, USDA. USGPO. Washington.
Aspiras, R.B. 1981. Nitrogen fixation in nodulated non-legumes growing in the
Philippines. Canopy International 7(7):35.
Browne, F.G. 1968. Pests and diseases of forest plantations trees. Clarendon
Burkill, J.H. 1966. A dictionary of economic products of the Malay peninsula.
Art Printing Works, Kuala Lumpur. 2 vols.
C.S.I.R. (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research). 19481976. The wealth
of India. 11 vols. New Delhi.
Duke, J.A. 1978. The quest for tolerant germplasm. p. 161. In: ASA Special
Symposium 32, Crop tolerance to suboptimal land conditions. Am. Soc. Agron.
Duke, J.A. 1979. Ecosystematic data on economic plants. Quart. J. Crude Drug
Duke, J.A. and Wain, K.K. 1981. Medicinal plants of the world. Computer index
with more than 85,000 entries. 3 vols.
Jenkins, B.M. and Ebeling, J.M 1985. Thermochemical Properties of Biomass
Fuels. Calif. Agric. 39(5/6): 1416.
N.A.S. 1983e. Casuarinas: nitrogen fixing trees for adverse sites. National
Academy Press, Washington, DC.
N.R.C. 1982. Innovations in tropical reforestation VI: casuarinas. National
Academy Press, Washington, DC.
Last update Tuesday, December 30, 1997