This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(said to be derived from Casuarius, the Cassowary, from resemblance of the branches to the feathers). Casuarinaceae. Beefwood. She-Oak. Odd slender-branched leafless trees and shrubs grown in warm regions and rarely seen under glass. They are thin-topped trees of striking appearance.
Casuarinas are usually classified near the walnut and hickory tribes, although very unlike them-or other known plants-in botanical characters. They are jointed and leafless plants, somewhat suggesting equisetums in gross appearance. Flowers are unisexual; staminate in cylindrical terminal spikes, each flower consisting of a stamen inclosed in 4 scales, 2 of the scales being attached to the filament; pistillate flowers in dense heads borne in the axils, and ripening into globular or oblong cones, composed of 1-ovuled ovaries subtended by bracts: fruit a winged nutlet. - About 25 species in Austral., New Caledonia and E. Indies. The species fall into 2 groups, those having cylindrical and verticillate branches, and those having 4-angled and only imperfectly verticillate branches. The species bear small toothed sheaths at the joints.
Beefwood is planted in the extreme South for its very odd habit, and also to hold sands of the seacoast. The wood burns quickly, and is very hard and durable. The redness of the wood has given the popular name, beefwood. - The species are remarkable for rapid growth. They grow well in brackish and alkaline soils. Propagated by seeds and by cuttings of partly ripened wood.
Linn. Fig. 837. Tree, becoming 150 ft. high in favorable climates, and a most rapid grower: branches drooping, pale green, simple, terete or nearly so, the internodes very short (less than 1/4 in)', sheath-teeth 7 (6-8) lanceolate and appressed: staminate cone nearly terete; pistillate cone short-peduncled, ellipsoidal, about 1/2-in. diam. Widely distributed in the farther Old World tropics, and the best-known species in this country (in S. Fla. and Calif, and south). Gn. M. 7:21. L.B.C. 7:607. - The wood is valuable for many purposes. The casuarinas are known as "oak" in Austral.
Fig. 837. Casuarina equisetifolia. (X 1/2)
Cunninghamiana, Miq. Tree with slender branches, much like C. equisetifolia, but cones smaller, about 1/3in. diam., globular and very irregular, with prominent valves. Austral. - Described as a rapid-growing tree in Calif., with strong and dense growth and numerous fine branches with very short internodes.
Dry. (C. quadrivalvis, Labill.). Becoming 20-30 ft. high: branches erect, simple, 6-7-angled, scarcely green, internodes short, as in the latter: sheath-teeth usually 7, ovate-lanceolate and appressed: staminate cone slender; pistillate cone nearly sessile, oblong (sometimes staminate above), about 14-sided, 1 in. diam. Austral. Gn.M. 7:21.
Dry. (C. tenuissima, Sieber). Reaches 70 or 80 ft.: branches erect, capillary, mostly terete, internodes short: sheath-teeth 4, very short, triangular appressed: staminate cones filiform; pistillate cones ellipsoidal, 8-10-sided. Austral.
Jungh. Shrub with dense very slender branches which are sharply angled, the internodes often very short, the sheath-teeth short: cone large, elliptical or globose, the valves thick and concave-truncate at apex. Sumatra. - Offered in England, and the branches said to be useful for bouquets; very much branched.
L. H. B