Monday, March 15, 2010

Casuarina equisetifolia - Rhu Pantai



Synonym : Casuarina litorea

Common names : Casuarina, Australian pine, beach she-oak, beef wood-tree, whistling pine


Etymology


Casuarina is from the Malay word ‘kasuari’, an allusion to the twigs of cassowary bird.

equisetifolia 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.

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Natural Habitat & Origin

Sandy coasts of subtropical & tropical ( between 12-31.5°s and 18-22°N ) - Australasia, SE.Asia, islands of the western Pacific Ocean, possible Madagascar.


Classification

Magnoliophyta Magnoliopsida Fagales Casuarinaceae

Description
Evergreen tree with capable to grow up to 20 meters in height.
Crown shape initially conical but tends to flatten with age.
Trunk straight, cylindrical, usually branchless for up to 10m, up to 100cm in diameter. Bark reddish brown colour, rough, brittle, peeling.
Branchlets are deciduous, dropping, needlelike, terete but with prominent angular ribs, 23 – 38 cm x 0.5 – 1 mm, greyish-green.
Flowers unisexual, perianth absent. Monoecious. Pollination by wind.

Male flowers in terminal, simple, elongated spike, 7-40mm long, in whorls, single stamen.
Female inflorescence on a short lateral branchlet, cylindrical, cone-shaped or globose.
Infructescence woody, conelike.
Fruit grey or yellow-grown winged nut (samara).
Seed solitary.




Propagation & Cultivation

Propagation by seeds; cutting from branclests, treated with IBA/IAA/NAA; air-layering is practice, but too costly for large scale operation.

Inoculation with pure strains of Frakia prior to transplanting to field.

Planting density of 2,500stem/ha. Harvested at 10th – 15th years.

May plant up to 8,000-10,000 stems/ha for firewood. Harvested at 4th – 5th years. Yield 10 – 20 MT/ha/year.


Economic Importance

Firewood : Calorific value 500kcal/kg. Highly regarded wood, ignites readily even when green. Regarded “the best firewood in the world”.

Charcoal : Calorific value 7000kcal/kg .

Paper : Wood to produce paper pulp using neutral sulphate and semi-chemical process.

Timber : Heavy hardwood. Density 900-100kg/m3. Used as house post, rafters, electtic poles, tool handles, oars, wagon wheels, etc.

Folk medicine : Root extrcts are used for treating dysentry, diarrhea, stomach ache. Twigs are used for treating swelling. Powdered bark is used for treating pimples.

Erosion control : planted along coastlines, estuaries, riverbanks, waterways.

Horticulture : Landscape, bongsai.

Weed : Reported to be an invasive weed in Hawaii, the Bahamas, Florida, Nauru.

Others : Tannin, boat making, wind breaker, living fences, nitrogen-fixing.

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