December 12
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Plant Species of the genus Allocasuarina

Information about this genus
Name: Allocasuarina
Cultivation: CULTIVATION: Most species are adapted to poor sandy or stony soils, low in essential plant nutrients. Planted in better soil the shrub species tend to ?bolt? and may fall over under their own weight; however the taller tree species mostly adapt well to more fertile soils, particularly A. luehmanniana and A. verticillata which occur naturally on clays. They make fast growth in the garden and require little maintenance, although the fall of masses of dead branchlets on paths and lawns can sometimes be a problem. Propagation is always from seed, which quickly falls out of gathered cones and germinates readily.
Description: Until 1980 the casuarina family (Casuarinaceae) was regarded as consisting of the single genus Casuarina. An Australian botanist who specialized in this group of plants argued for the recognition of 3 additional genera, into which were transferred all but 17 of the 90 known species in the family. Largest of these new genera is Allocasuarina, with 59 species entirely confined to Australia. They are all trees or shrubs and share with Casuarina a pine-like appearance and unique structures. The fine twigs appear leafless, but in fact they have whorls of narrow leaves fused flat against their surfaces, with only the tips remaining free and appearing as rings of minute teeth at regular intervals along the twig. The number of teeth per ring is a characteristic feature of each species. Flowers are mostly of different sexes on different plants and are highly reduced in structure. Male flowers consist of little more than a single tiny stamen, but are strung in whorls along the branch tips in large numbers, coloring the male plants golden brown to rusty red at flowering time. Female flowers similarly consist of little more than a pair of delicate red styles, but are grouped in small dense heads arising from the thicker twigs. The cone-like ?fruits? are in fact short spikes of tightly packed woody bracts; these eventually split apart to release the ?seeds?, actually the true fruits, which are small blackish nuts tipped by a membranous wing. Allocasuarina species can be put to good use as screens and windbreaks, though not quite such vigorous growers as true Casuarina species. As ornamentals they are not to everyone?s taste, but the dull purplish color that the foliage often takes on in winter adds to their appeal. The trunk and branches make excellent firewood and some species have been grown for this purpose.

Specie Vernacular Zone
Allocasuarina decussata 9-10
Allocasuarina distyla 9-11
Allocasuarina inophloia 9-11
Allocasuarina lehmanniana 9?11
Allocasuarina littoralis 9-11
Allocasuarina luehmannii 9-11
Allocasuarina torulosa 8-11
Allocasuarina verticillata 8-10

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