The Irenabyss Gallery

The Lens Art of Matt Brain

Casuarina of Tasmania

Black Sheoak (Allocasuarina littoralis)

Black Sheoak (Allocasuarina littoralis) tenaciously clings to the sandstone cliffs overlooking Maria Island

The she-oak (Casuarina) have always been a favourite tree of mine - the sound of soft wind though branchlets and aroma takes ones mind straight to the open forests behind the east coast beaches.

We have nearly completed planting 141 Tasmanian natives from Sally at the lovely Habitat Plants under Dry's Bluff behind Liffey including 16 Casuarina. This nursery of Tasmanian natives is well worth the drive to visit.

I had little prior knowledge of the varieties of Casuarina - the Bull oak (Allocasuarina littoralis, also called Black Sheoak) is locally common in the Cataract Gorge and throughout the East Coast (pictured). The Cape Pillar Sheoak (Allocasuarina crassa) is described as a sprawling shrub however plantings away from the winds of the Cape Pillar plateau have produced beautiful medium trees with trailing branches. The conical she oak (Duncans she oak, Allocasuarina duncanii) is a smaller shrub with limited native distribution. The Drooping Sheoak (Allocasuarina verticillata) is commonly used as a feature or windbreak.

Good sources of information include Wildseed TasmaniaFlorabank, and the Australian Plants Society (Tasmania). A description of the origin of the name 'She-oak' is here - with reference to an oak like wood of inferior quality while Casuarina is after the resemblance of the dropping branchlets to the feathers of cassowary.

I have just uploaded a new gallery from Tasmania's south east including the attached image of a bull-oak precariously clinging to the crumbling sandstone cliffs along Spring Bay. This image was taken with my 4x5 inch Linhof Technika using a 90mm Rodenstock Grandagon lens. I had seen the potential shot in advance but had to revisit the site several times waiting for the flat low light to achieve the image I desired.


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