she-oaks, Florence Bay




pronounced: kaz-yoo-ah-ree-NAY-see-eye

the she-oak family

The name is derived from the Malay word kasuäri, the Cassowary, so named because of the similarity of the foliage to that bird’s plumage. There are only 4 genera with some 96 species, found in Australia, the Pacific Islands and South-East Asia, of which 3 genera and some 65 species are found in Australia. The leaves are reduced to scale-like teeth in whorls of 4 – 20, separated by portions of branchlets known as ‘articles’; these articles have as many longitudinal ridges, separated by furrows, as there are teeth. The trees may be monoecious or dioecious, but in either case the male inflorescence is a catkin-like spike, the flowers with 1 or 2 hooked, scale-like tepals and 1 stamen, the anther basifixed. The female inflorescence is a small globose or ovoid head, the flowers without a perianth; there are 2 carpels, fused, with 2 (or rarely 4) ovules; the style is reddish and bifid. The female inflorescence develops into a woody infructescence, with the 2 enlarged bracteoles of each flower forming 2 lateral valves, which open when the seed-like samara is ripe.

Older classification systems held this family to be the most primitive of dicotyledonous plants, but the flowers and other primitive-appearing characteristics are now considered to be reduced rather than primitive


Photograph © Donald Simpson 2006