Mitimilele Ltd

Casuarina Equisetifolia

This deciduous tree, in appearance closer to a Conifer, is native to Australia and India. It got its name from an Australian bird, the Kasuar, because the foliage, clustered in pine like needles, looks rather like the feathery plumage of this bird. Another name is ironwood, because the wood is extremely hard.

There is no tree in comparison as resistant to saltwater and saline air, and its frugality regarding the soil causes this tree to very quickly spread within the coastlines. It stabilizes sandy beaches, reduces erosion and on top of this looks very pretty.

Its frugality lies in the way the roots form little bulbs, in which bacteria from the genus Francia live in perfect symbiosis.

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These bacteria bind the nitrogen in the air and provide it as a nutrient. The trees grow fast and are suited for dry areas. Since the foliage is reduced to clustered needles they are a natural and effective protection against evaporation. The Casuarinas' wood is extremely hard and withstands even disintegration caused by saltwater. That' why it's being used for building canoes, tools, furniture and for building. In Kenya it is not only used for artful small beam work, but also very large ones, which are then covered with the traditional palm leaves, tightly interwoven.

Used as firewood, the Casuarinas burn efficient and without producing much smoke. That is why it can effectively be used for making charcoal, which then is another way of generating an income. Last not least the bark is being utilized: it is rich in tannin and can be used as an infusion for diarrhea, or in handicrafts for dying and tanning.

In our tree-nursery we produce our own seeds. They are very delicate, need lots of light and are placed rather superficially into the soil. It takes about 2-3 weeks for the sprout to appear. After 2-6 month the seedlings can be taken from the soil and be replanted.

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