Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research

Casuarina equisetifolia Linnaeus

Kingdom:Plantae
Phylum/Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Eudicots
Order:Fagales
Family:Casuarinaceae
Genus:Casuarina
Species:C. equisetifolia
Common Names:Ru, Rhu
Status:Common

Description

Casuarina is a very tall tree with a single straight trunk bearing branches and green, needle-like twigs. These twigs are finely grooved and jointed, with teeth-like whorls of minute leaves at the joints. Male and female flowers are borne on different trees. The male flowers consist only of stamens, found at the tips of the needle-like twigs. The female flowers are at the swollen ends twigs, developing into cone-like fruits with many flattened, winged seeds.

Read more about the Fagales order.
Read more about the Casuarinaceae family.

Distribution

This is a coastal tree found in sandy seashore from the Bay of Bengal to to the Pacific Islands and the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

Localities

Once common along Tanjong Rhu, it is now planted as an ornamental in parks and some gardens. Also found wild along Changi, East Coast Park, Pulau Semakau, Tanah Merah

Ecological Role

In its natural habitat Casuarina serve as a control to coastal erosion and a as a windbreak. The trees can also be used to reclaim sand dunes. The presence of a myxomycete in the roots contribute to the fertility of the soil.

Human Uses

Casuarina also makes an attractive tree in gardens and parks and can be used as a hedge plant as it can tolerate repeated clippings. It is also used in topiary as the branches can be moulded into various shapes by proper pruning. The wood makes good firewood and the poles are used in construction of scaffoldings. In traditional medicine the bark is used to treat pimples and a decoction of the twigs as a lotion for swelling.

References

Chong, K. Y., H. T. W. Tan & R. T. Corlett, 2009. A Checklist of the Total Vascular Plant Flora of Singapore: Native, Naturalised and Cultivated Species. Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, Singapore. 273 pp.

Wee, Y. C. 1990. A guide to the wayside trees of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre. (2nd ed.) 160 pp.

Wee, Y. C. 1992.  A guide to medicinal plants. Singapore Science Centre. 160 pp.

Wee, Y. C. 2003. Tropical trees and shrubs. A selection for urban plantings. Sun Tree Pub., Singapore. 392 pp.

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Habitats

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