Allocasuarina littoralis
Family: Casuarinaceae
Common name: Black Sheoak

A. littoralis is a native plant to the Melbourne region, growing in the eastern and southern suburban areas. This native range is quite broad, extending from the Merri Creek area south into Sandringham and other coastal regions. A. littoralis is named for its growth near the coast; this is both correct and mis-leading, as A. littoralis will grow very well both inland and in coastal zones.

Black Sheoak is easily recognised because of its very short brachlets, typically 20cm in length and divided into very short segments (this contrasts significantly with the other cultivated casuarinas, such as A. verticillata). These branchlets are very fine, bright green, and contrast strongly with the black bark. The tree’s growth is upright, and A. littoralis will grow no wider than 4m; as a young plant, it will be about 2m wide. The flowers are showy, typically dark red in spring.

A. littoralis will grow in any well-drained site, including those where summer irrigation is limited. Its growth is fastest where full sun is provided, and will respond well to irrigation during establishment. A. littoralis is relatively fast-growing for a small-statured tree, growing up to 800mm per year under ideal conditions.

Black Sheoak should be more commonly planted as a street tree in Melbourne; it will give an informal, evergreen appearance to the streetscape, and should succeed where other, more-water-requiring selections will struggle.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne. Spencer, R (Ed). 1997. Horticultural Flora of South-Eastern Australia, Flowering Plants, Dicotyledons Part 1. University of NSW Press, Sydney.

Typical mature height: to 8m
Useful in: height-restricted areas, as screening, copse planting
Sites for best growth: moist-to-dry, well-drained