Skip to main content Skip to home page

Desert oak

Desert oak

Allocasuarina decaisneana

Family: Casuarinaceae

Majestic, tall tree reaching 12m when mature. The male flowers and female flowers are borne on separate trees (dioecious). The bark is thick, dark brown and deeply fissured making it quite distinctive. The foliage is long and needle like. The fruit is a woody cone which is quite decorative.

Desert oaks have juvenile and adult forms. The juveniles are thin and straight, looking a bit like a feather duster. They often occur in dense stands or forests, usually on the lower slopes and swales between red sand dunes. The juvenile foliage is prickly to deter grazing animals from eating it. The juvenile trees send down a strong tap root, when this reaches the water table (and a more reliable water supply), they start to change into their adult form by sending out side branches and transforming into a tree with weeping, smooth foliage.

These trees have several adaptations to help them regenerate and tolerate fire. These include the thick bark, ability to produce epicormic growth (regeneration from leaf buds under the bark) and the generation of huge amounts of seed which is assisted in germination by the ash left after the fires.

Where to find this plant at Alice Springs Desert Park

These trees are displayed in northern side of the Sand Country habitat.

Latz, P., 2004. Bushfires and Bushtucker, IAD Press, Alice Springs
Moore, P., 2005. A Guide to Plants of Inland Australia, Reed New Holland, Sydney

Back to top