Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Australian Pine, Horsetail Casuarina
Casuarina equisetifolia

Family: Casuarinaceae
Genus: Casuarina (kazh-yoo-ar-EYE-nuh) (Info)
Species: equisetifolia (ek-wih-set-ih-FOL-ee-uh) (Info)

3 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Unknown - Tell us

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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By Floridian
Thumbnail #1 of Casuarina equisetifolia by Floridian

By impiety
Thumbnail #2 of Casuarina equisetifolia by impiety

By bermudiana
Thumbnail #3 of Casuarina equisetifolia by bermudiana

By Monocromatico
Thumbnail #4 of Casuarina equisetifolia by Monocromatico

By Floridian
Thumbnail #5 of Casuarina equisetifolia by Floridian

By PotEmUp
Thumbnail #6 of Casuarina equisetifolia by PotEmUp

By NativePlantFan9
Thumbnail #7 of Casuarina equisetifolia by NativePlantFan9

There are a total of 24 photos.
Click here to view them all!


1 positive
6 neutrals
7 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral yngrayn On Jan 21, 2009, yngrayn from Merritt Island, FL wrote:

I sent a note directly to deekayn, but a larger audience may help:

Has anyone used this wood on the bar-b-que grill? I use it for firewood, but not for cooking. Anyone have any experience cooking a steak on the Australian Pine coals?


Positive vander On Oct 26, 2006, vander from Brisbane
Australia wrote:

love this tree

Negative jnana On May 17, 2005, jnana from South Florida, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

Considered Category 1 of highly invasive plants by the state of Florida. Easily uprooted during storms and hurricanes causing damage to property and electrical lines. Do not plant this tree if living in Florida.

Negative melody On Jan 28, 2005, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

An increasingly invasive pest tree of the deep coastal south.

The casuarinas, or beefwoods, represent a large group of tropical species. Unlike the pines, they are a true flowering plant. The blossoms are tiny and the needles resemble those of the native horsetail, equisetum. They are also similar to the feathers of the flightless casowary bird, from which the name comes.

It is frequently used in windbreaks and erosion control, but the windborne seeds have caused this tree to escape into the wild and it is now threatening native plants and trees.

Negative TREEHUGR On Dec 12, 2004, TREEHUGR from Now in Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

It's a shame that so many recreation parks in the southern half of florida have these, and they are used as shelterbelts for citrus farms. I even saw where they are being used as a hedge in west palm beach. You might call it a staple of the south florida landscape because they're hard to miss and are found all over.

What's an even bigger shame however, is that propery owners, the parks, and citrus farmers that do have these....still have them!! The problem is not going to go away if people continue to do nothing. But I suspect some education and perhaps a little law enforcement would do the trick.

Looks like progress is being made in the eradication programs that I saw along US-27 in Broward and Dade counties.

Negative MotherNature4 On Aug 5, 2004, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Unfortunately, this invasive, harmful tree does grow in central Florida. It is even worse along the coastline.

Negative NativePlantFan9 On Aug 4, 2004, NativePlantFan9 from Boca Raton, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Australian Pine, Beefwood, Australian Oak, She-oak, or Horsetail Tree is very invasive in many habitats in coastal central and southern Florida from Cape Canaveral and Saint Petersburg/Tampa Bay southward throughout the Keys, including in my area. I see a lot of these trees growing on the barrier islands, where they interfere with native vegetation, both on the oceanfront (where it crowds out valuable, hardy, salt-tolerant native plants such as sea grapes, sea oats and railroad vines that hold the dune in place and prevent erosion) as well as along the Intracoastal Waterway (where it destroys important mangrove swamp habitat for wildlife by crowding out the native plants such as mangroves and littering the ground with its seedlings, causing it to spread, as well as its needles, which smother up vegetation by forming a thick "mat" above the soil and releasing special chemicals that hurt vegetation, and finally with its roots, that raise the low swamp vegetation by creating small - to- large, highish, sandy ridges so that mangroves can't grow there, also allowing over non-natives such as Brazilian Peppertree to spread) and can compete with some other troublesome exotics and is now banned here in Florida and is on the EPPC Plant List One despite its attractive looks. In some areas, especially further south, I have seen it even more extremely invasive, with hundreds of young, new trees and seedlings sprouting and taking over around the tall adult trees, especially along canals and waterways on its banks, especially in sandy, dry areas. In those areas it is just as or even more worse than Brazilian Peppertree. And even worse, the plant can fall over very easily in hurricanes and damage property and homes and buildings as well as possibly hurt or kill people and wildlife, and also the trees can cause massive erosion along shorelines with it's thick but shallow, invasive roots. If you have these trees, get rid of them as soon as possible, or try to do so!

MORE FACTS - Native to Australia. Tolerates wide range of soils, especially acidic or dry, sandy soils or coastal soils. Grows very quickly. Also naturalized (and invasive) in Bermuda, the Bahamas, the West Indies and Caribbean, Hawaii and on many of the Pacific Islands. In Hawaii and other areas, it is often called 'Ironwood'. It is also sometimes called the 'Whistling Pine' because of the somewhat whispery sounds the needles make when a breeze blows through them.

Neutral foodiesleuth On Jul 9, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

The trees also grew in Cuba, where I was born. I remember the lovely sound produced as the wind coming from our bay played among the beanches......a unique, long and soft whooooosh that immediately brings childhood memories when I hear it.

As punaheledp says, it is quite invasive also on the Island of Hawaii, though not slated for biological control at this time either.

There is a State Park (McKenzie) in the SE Coastal area of Puna on this island where the trees have taken grass grows and the "pine needles" have formed a thick carpet that covers almost the whole area of the park. An eerie site and feeling as it also cushions most noises. Even though there might be other people around, the whole effect is quite lonely feeling and ghostly.

Neutral punaheledp On Jul 8, 2004, punaheledp from Kailua, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

in Hawaii it is called "ironwood" and is on the pest plant list, though not slated for biological conntol at this time because it is beneficial for windbreak, erosion control and nitrogen fixation. it can grow to 40m and up to 500m elevation. Most commonly seen along shoreline, see lots on windward and north shores. They can be kind of attractive from a distance, but don't want to walk barefoor thru' them on way to beach... the little cones are hard and pokey, ouch.

Neutral deekayn On Jan 21, 2004, deekayn from Tweed Coast
Australia wrote:

The Aborigines made a mouthwash from the twigs

Negative Monocromatico On Jun 14, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

Its a great tree to block wind and dust, specially in coastal areas. Because of this utility, this species of Australian pine became out of control, since its seeds also are carried away by the winds. Thats how it turned out to be one of the most dangerous species to the coastal ecossystems, taking over the place once ocupied by native species.

As for blocking the wind, other species, preferably native ones, should be planted instead of Casuarina, because theres no way to control it.

Negative FranG On Nov 18, 2002, FranG from Brighton, MA wrote:

Invasive species. Attempts are being made to eradicate it in Florida.

Neutral Weezingreens On Nov 17, 2002, Weezingreens from Seward, AK (Zone 3b) wrote:

Australian pine is not a pine, though it has cone-like fruit and wispy bracts of scaly deciduous leaves that resemble needles. It is native to Malaysia, Southern Asia, Oceana & Australia. Other common names are Ironwood, Horsetail Tree, She Oak, & Beefwood.

Australian pine can grow 5 to 10 feet per year, sometimes reaching a height of 100 feet, thus producing dense shade. As well, it drops its fruit and leaves, completely covering the ground below, altering the light, temperature, and chemistry of the soil and destroying the habitat.

Australian pine was introduced into Florida in the 1800's to stabilize ditches & canals, as well as producing lumber and affording shade. Unfortunately, the root system is shallow and they blow over easily, the wood tends to shatter when cut into lumber, and the shade it offers excludes all other species from sharing its space.

Australian pine produces copious amounts of small, winged seeds that the wind spreads, and it is able to flower all year long. Introduction into a new environment should be done cautiously.

Neutral Floridian On Oct 12, 2001, Floridian from Lutz, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Australian pine is a deciduous tree with a soft, wispy, pine-like appearance that can grow to 100 feet or more in height. It bears a superficial resemblance to the conifer genus Pinus because of its small, round, cone-like fruits and its branchlets of scale-like leaves that look like pine needles. Its flowers are tiny, brown and wind-pollinated. The fruit is a nutlet about inch in diameter that contains winged seeds. The ground below Australian pine trees becomes ecologically sterile and lacking in food value for native wildlife. Australian pine occurs in open, coastal strand habitat, characterized by sand and shell beaches, rocky coasts, sand dunes, and sand bars in subtropical climates.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Phoenix, Arizona
Bartow, Florida
Big Pine Key, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Cocoa, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
New Port Richey, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Hilo, Hawaii
Honomu, Hawaii
Kailua, Hawaii
Brownsville, Texas

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