Casuarina equisetifolia L.

Last updated: 11 May 2016

Scientific Name

Casuarina equisetifolia L.


Casuarina africana Lour., Casuarina brunoniana Miq., Casuarina equisetifolia subsp. equisetifolia, Casuarina equisetifolia var. souderi Fosberg, Casuarina excelsa Dehnh. ex Miq., Casuarina indica Pers., Casuarina lateriflora Poir., Casuarina littorea Oken, Casuarina littorea var. souderi (Fosberg) Fosberg & Sachet, Casuarina mertensiana Rupr. ex Miq., Casuarina repens Hoffmanns., Casuarina sparsa Tausch, Casuarina truncata Willd. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Aru, chemara laut, common ru, eru, kayu ru, ru, ru laut [2]
English Australian pine, beach she-oak, beefwood, bloodwood, bull oak, casuarina, coast she-oak, coastal beefwood, common ionwood, horsetail tree, ironwood, swamp she oak, whistling pine. [2]
China Mu ma huang [2]
India Cabaku, caboku, cattutai, cauku, cavukkumaram, chulamaram, civavarci, gali, karcuramatitam, korata, phiramgi-saro, sabako, saravina, sarpuhala, sarugu, savukku maram, serva, sura, uromacakkarimaram, utirppakamaram [2]
Indonesia Cemara laut, eru [2][3]
Thailand Son-thale [2][3]
Laos Pè:k namz, sôn th'ale: [2][3]
Myanmar Tin-yu [2][3]
Philippines Agoho, aro-o [2]
Cambodia Snga:w [2]
Vietnam C[aa]y phi lao [2][3]
Japan Tokiwa-gyorû, moku-maô, makumowo (Okinawa) [2]
Papua New Guinea Yar [2][3], iria, manar, musim, owalu, yara, yawale [2]
Africa Moinga, mvinje (Swahili), bewerasieboom (South Africa) [2]
Hawaii Paina [2].

Geographical Distributions

Casuarina equisetifolia has the widest natural distribution of all Casuarina species, occurring naturally along the tropical coastlines from northern Queensland and the Northern Territory in Australia, throughout the whole Malesian region to the Kra Isthmus (Thailand). To the east its natural range extends throughout Melanesia and Polynesia. It is doubtfully indigenous to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam and to Burma (Myanmar) and possibly also to Madagascar. It has also been introduced into a large number of countries and is now a common feature of the coastal landscape of most tropical and warm subtropical countries, where it is often naturalized. [3]

Botanical Description

C. equisetifolia originated from the family Casuarinaceae. It is a monoecious tree with a finely branched crown and can grow up to 6-35 m tall. [3]

The trunk can grow up to 50 cm in diameter and has a light-greyish brown bark, smooth on young trunks, rough, thick and furrowed on older trees, inner bark reddish and astringent, branchlets deciduous, drooping, needle-like, terete but with prominent angular ribs, 23-38 cm x 0.5-1 mm, greyish-green, articles 5-8 mm long, glabrous to densely pubescent. [3]

The leaves are educed to minute teeth, in whorls of 7-8 per nodes. [3]

The male flowers in a terminal, simple, elongated spike, 7-40 mm long, borne in whorls with 7.0-11.5 whorls per cm of spike. [3]

The female inflorescence on lateral woody branches, cylindrical, cone-shaped or globose, 10—24 mm long, 9-13 mm in diameter; bracteoles acute, more or less protruding from the surface of the cone. [3]

The fruit is a samara, usually 6-8 mm long. [3]

C. equisetifolia contains 1 seed per fruits and are dull brown in color with epigeal germination. [3]


C. equisetifolia is commonly confined to a narrow strip adjacent to sandy coasts, usually from sea level to 100 m altitude, but recorded to 600 m in Hawaii and 800 m in the Philippines. It is planted up to 1200 m altitude. It is found on sand dunes, in sands alongside estuaries behind foredunes and gentle slopes near the sea. It may be found at the leading edge of dune vegetation, subjected to salt spray and inundation with sea water at extremely high tides and where it may be the only woody species, growing over a ground cover of dune grasses and salt-tolerant broad-leaved herbs. It may also be part of the richer Indo-Pacific beach flora, in which it grows in association with Barringtonia asiatica (L.) Kurz, Calophyllum inophyllum L., Heritiera littoralis Aiton, Hibiscus tiliaceus L., Thespesia populnea Sol. ex Correa and Pandanus species. It requires much light. Seedlings do not grow in the shade of uniform Casuarina equisetifolia stands and such stands are gradually replaced by mixed forest, with a single file of Casuarina equisetifolia trees along the sea front. The climate in its natural range is semi-arid to sub-humid and frost-free. Rainfall varies from 700-2000(-3500) mm per year. In most regions there is a distinct dry period of 4-6(-8) months, although this seasonality decreases towards the equator in South-East Asia and in the southern parts of its range in Australia. C. equisetifolia is intolerant of prolonged waterlogging. It can grow in semi-arid climates with annual rainfall of less than 350 mm where sea spray and high air humidity supplement rainfall. Mean minimum temperature of the coldest month ranges from 7°C-20°C, mean maximum temperature of the hottest month from 20°C-35°C. Soils are invariably well-drained and rather coarse-textured, principally sands and sandy loams. The tree tolerates saline, calcareous and slightly alkaline soils and is very well adapted to soils of low fertility. [3]

Propagation is mainly by seed, although cuttings are increasingly used. Seed requires no pretreatment. Germination takes up to two weeks. In Thailand and India cuttings are made from small branchlets 10-15 cm long and 2 mm in diameter. Rooting is enhanced through use of the hormones indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) or indole-3-acetic acid (IAA). In southern China cuttings are taken from branchlets of 5 cm long and 1 mm in diameter and soaked in a solution of naphthalene-1-acetic acid (NAA) before being placed in polythene bags. Inoculation of the seedlings with a pure culture of effective strains of Frankia is recommended when C. equisetifolia is introduced to a new area. This is done by applying a water suspension of the inoculant to the seedlings. Applying a solution of crushed nodules works less well. The availability of mycorrhizal fungi can be assured by adding soil collected from established stands to the potting medium. Early growth can be doubled as a response to inoculation. Plantations can be established using containerized seedlings, bare-root seedlings or rooted cuttings. Plants are typically suitable for planting out when 25-30 cm tall, though in the desert climate of Egypt smaller seedlings are preferred. A density of 2500 plants per ha is commonly used, but some private farmers plant up to 8000-10 000 plants per ha. Young trees compete poorly with weeds, so weeding is important for 2 years after planting. [3]

Chemical Constituent

Chemical compounds isolated from the twigs and leaves of C. equisetifolia showed seven new β-amyrin derived oleanane-type triterpene coumaroyl esters with two known triterpenoids, erythrodiol and oleanolic acid and a number of benzoic acid derivatives. The structures of the seven new compounds have been elucidated as 3-O-(E)-coumaroyl b-amyrin, 3-O-(Z)-coumaroyl b-amyrin, 3-O-dihydrocoumaroyl b-amyrin, 3-O-(E)-coumaroyl erythrodiol, 3-O-(Z)-coumaroyl erythrodiol, 3-O-(E)-coumaroyl oleanolic acid and 3-O-(Z)-coumaroyl oleanolic acid. [4]

Plant Part Used

Bark, leaf, twig. [5]

Traditional Use

C. equisetifolia leaves is used to treat abominal colic in the form of a decoction. In Yap (an island in the South Pacific) the inner bark is used ot treat diarrhoea and other digestive problems. The Indian considered the bark astringent and appropriately used it to treat diarrhoea and dysentery. In Cook Island and Fiji the extract of the bark is considered an emetic and used to induce vomiting in a much stronger concentration. [6][7]

In Tonga the infusion of the C. equisetifolia bark is used to treat oral thrush in infants. It is also used as an expectorant for productive cough. The grated inner bark is made into a solution to treat urinary tract problems. The same is used to treat rheumatism. [6]

Preclinical Data


Antioxidant activity

The bark of C. equisetifolia was amongst the plant material studied for their antioxidant activity by Prakash et al. [6] They found the extracts of the bark of C. equisetifolia to have goot anti-radical power (16.2) and reducing power (0.7 ASE/mL) despite the low total phenolic content (TPC = 72.1 mg/g). The condensed tannin content of stem bark and fine roots of C. equisetifolia was found to have very good antioxidant activities as proven by DPPH radical scavenging activity and ferric reducing/antioxidant power (FRAP). [7]

Aeroallergens activity

An allergic provocation tests study was done to determine the allergenicity of Australian pine (C. equisetifolia) pollen extract (APE). The results showed that 71% of subject with allergic rhinitis had positive nasal response and positive APE skin test and 50% of cases of extrinsic asthmatics had positive bronchial challenge with positive APE skin test. The Australian pine pollen specific IgE was demonstrated in 42% of subject with positive nasal challenge and 80% of subjects with positive bronchial challenge. [8]


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation

Adverse reaction

C. equisetifolia pollen extract has been found to be aeroallergen and can provoke allergic reaction especially respiratory, in sensitive individuals. [9]

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation


No documentation


Dosage Range

No documentation

Poisonous Management

Toxic parts

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Casuarina equisetifolia L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013. [updated on 2012 Mar 23; cited on 2016 Apr 12]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume II C-D. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 150-151
  3. Midgley SJ, Sylvester R. Casuarina equisetifolia L. In: Faridah Hanum I, Van der Maesen LJG, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 11: Auxiliary plants. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 1997; p. 86-89.
  4. Takahashi H, Iuchi M, Fujita Y, Minami H, Fukuyama Y. Coumaroyl triterpenes from Casuarina equisetifolia. Phytochemistry. 1999;51(4):543-550.
  5. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 1. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR, 2002; p. 154.
  6. Elevitch CR, editor. Traditional trees of Pacific Islands: Their culture, environment, and use. Holualoa, Hawaii: Permanent Agriculture Resources, 2006; p. 228-237.
  7. Vardhana R. Direct uses of medicinal plants and their identification. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons, 2008; p.76.
  8. Prakash D, Suri S, Upadhyay G, Singh BN. Total phenol, antioxidant and free radical scavenging activities of some medicinal plants. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2007;58(1):18-28.
  9. Bucholtz GA, Hensel 3rd AE, Lockey RF, Serbousek D, Wunderlin RP. Australian pine (Casuarina equisetifolia) pollen as an aeroallergen. Annals of allergy. 1987;59(1):52-56.