12 What do you think? Is it worthwhile of giving it a try? What other tree does Casuarina looks like?
13 Casuarina is a tree with a superficial resemblance to pines. But it is a completely different tree.In Malta we have difficulty in cultivating our native Aleppo Pine as a pristine bonsai.I think that our only alternative option is the Casuarina. Just look at some more pictures of magnificent Casuarina bonsai.
24 Other valid reasons to start bonsaing Casuarina The tree grows well in MaltaMaster Peter Chan encouraged us to grow itIndonesian Casuarina bonsai are very prestigious and noticeable at many international conventions (thinking of the next generation of Maltese bonsaists)Many countries are training CasuarinaFast results possible
27 Casuarina is also known as: Australian pineBeefwoodForest oakShe-oak (The name 'she-oak' was given in allusion to the timber, which is oak-like in appearance but was considered inferior in strength to English Oak).Horsetail treeIronwood (very hard wood; wrecks saws)
32 Casuarina usually grows in the tropics and sub-tropical regions. It is native to Australia and the Pacific Islands.In many countries it is considered as an invasive species.
33 Casuarina is highly tolerant to many adverse conditions and climates. The ‘leaves’ are jointed or segmented and one can break them off anywhere, so you can have a long- or short-needled bonsai as you wish.
45 Trees begin bearing seeds when they are 3-5 years old Mature trees produce tremendous numbers of small, winged seeds which are dispersed by wind and waterThey also are spread by birds
46 Male flowers appear in spikes at branchlets tips Trees are dioecious (both sexes being usually on the same tree e.g. C. equisetifolia) or monoeciousMale flowers appear in spikes at branchlets tipsFeminine flowers in round heads at the bases of branchlets
68 Important biological features AllelopathyNon-leguminous symbiotic nitrogen fixationMycorrhiza
69 Allelopathy (plant chemical welfare) Tree produces a thick layer of fallen needles on the forest floor because the needles are not eaten by other organisms. This profuse litter smothers native seedling development.An allelopathic substance released by the needles retards seedling germination and growth of other competing plants.
70 Non-leguminous symbiotic nitrogen fixation Roots of Casuarina form nitrogen-fixing root nodules (actinorhizae) in symbiosis with the actinomycete Frankia
71 MycorrhizaMycorrhiza is a mutualistic, non-pathogenic association of a fungus and the roots of a higher plant.In a mycorrhizal association the fungus may colonize the roots of a host plant either intracellularly or extracellularly.Having its roots colonized by fungi benefits a plant in a number of ways.Increased nutrient uptakeIncreased disease resistanceEnhanced water relations (drought resistance)Increased soil aggregation
73 Potting MixtureShould be porous for good drainage.So likes sand and coarse gravel.Likes salty, calcareous soil
74 RepottingAvoid severe root disturbanceAvoid any major root cuttingsMix some old soil with the new soil.Plant needs the root nodules (for nitrate production) and the mycorrhiza (for phosphorus absorption and other minerals).
75 Some recommend periodic soil changes from around the edge of the pot (not a complete repotting). After repotting, avoid sunny places; keep in shady place until new shoots appear, then move to a more open area.Do not over water; keep just moist; spray whole tree.Best time: End of January / Start of February
76 PruningTree takes pruning very well and since it is fast growing = quick resultsSimply pinch overgrown ‘leaves’Can be done throughout the yearNever defoliate completely
77 First take care of the style and rhythm of the bonsai, by disciplining the main trunk and main branches.Then structure the sub-branches and twigs.Better to use the ‘clip-and-grow’ method.
78 Finally, start work on the foliage pads to create the canopy. Each cluster is formed by leaving a bunch of the needle-like leaves at the tips of the twigs.Unwanted needles are removed.Long needles are shortened.Never use shears to cut the leaves (if not brownish tips)
89 WateringGrows well given saline water or salt—water spray.It is recommended to periodically put salt on the soil around the plant.
90 FertilizersAlthough Casuarina is tolerant to infertile soil conditions in its natural habitat, fertilizing is recommended when in a pot.Growth rate responds well to phosphorus.Nitrogen is not needed because it produces its own nitrates with the help of bacteria in its root nodules.
91 PositionFull sun or bright shade and likes slight to moderate windVery shady conditions cause slow growth; the leaves grow weak, weepy and unhealthy.
92 UsageWindbreak or barrier or to provide beachfront shade or privacy.Widely cultivated for erosion control and soil nitrification.The pulp has been used to make paper.Outstanding fuel wood; recommended for biomass energy plantations.The wood has been used for powering locomotives and firing brick kilns.
93 A decoction from the astringent bark has been used as a remedy for diarrhea, beri-beri, sore throat, cough, headache, toothache, sores, and swellings.Extracts from the bark are also used for tanning hides and staining and preserving fishing lines and fabrics.The wood ash has been used to make soap.The "cones" are used in novelties for the tourist trade.