Scientific Name: Allocasuarina fraseriana
Indigenous (Noongar) Names: Kondil, kulli, gulli, kewll
Folk Names: Beefwood, bulloak (or buloke), cassowary tree, ironwood
Planet: Moon, Neptune
Associated Celebrations: ShadowFest
Parts Used: Leaves, fruit (cones), wood.
Magical Properties: Fertility (particularly feminine fertility), motherhood, tranquillity, spirituality, healing, intuition, compassion, wisdom, balance, family
Substitutions: Willow (Druidic Ogham equivalent)
Sheoak was important to Noongar peoples' spirituality, as well as social and emotional well-being:
- The sound of the breeze blowing through the leaves was believed to be the whispers of the spirits of the old ones.
- Babies were often places underneath sheoak trees for the gentle whispering to help them sleep.
- When sheoak needles fell onto their faces, Noongar people believed these were healing tears from the ancestors.
- Use sheoak to make a wand with feminine, water, and lunar energies.
- Use as part of smoke cleansing to bring in gentle, healing, balancing energies.
- Meditate under a sheoak tree to connect with your ancestors, and the spirits of the land.
- Use for workings around re-balancing of feminine energies.
- Sheoak has a history of use for feminine fertility: it can be helpful in overcoming problems conceiving which don’t seem to have any physical/medical cause.
The oak-like timber is popular for furniture, decorative woodwork, and in building (largely as roof shingles, floorboards, and panelling), and was once favoured for use in beer casks. The wood also makes good firewood, particularly as it doesn’t generate much ash.
The extensive root system and carpeting of ‘needles’ makes these trees useful for stabilising areas prone to soil erosion. They are sometimes used as an ornamental plant, although those same features can be a factor in their suitability for that purpose.
- Noongar women often gave birth under sheoak trees, due to the carpeting of soft needles.
- The needles were also used for bedding in shelters (mia mias), with a cover of kangaroo skins (buka).
- The young fruits/cones were eaten as a snack food.
“She-oak” is used to refer to the entire Casuarinaceae family, which contains 4 genera and 91 species. These were all classified under the genre Casuarina until the 1980s.
Sheoaks have nitrogen-fixing root systems, and the dropped needle-like twiglet “leaves” tend to form a carpet underneath the tree.
Type: Evergreen shrubs and trees
Plant size: 1m-35m
Bark: Dark, hard bark, with a tightly textured appearance.
Leaves: Drooping evergreen horsetail twiglets, with tiny tooth-like leaves growing around the joints.
Flowers: Form spikes/heads of small flowers at the end of branchlets, which have differing structure in male vs female flowers (which may or may not exist on the same tree, depending on the species).
Fruit: Round, woody, cone-like fruits.
Etymology: The drooping branches being reminiscent of cassowary feathers lead to the name “Casuarina” (from the Malay word ‘kasuari'). “She-oak” is a reference to the similarity of timber quality with oak.
In the Garden
Type: Evergreen shrub/tree
Light: Prefers full sun
Water: Drought-resistant once established
Soil: Not fussed - will even tolerate a degree of salinity
- Sheoaks have a nitrogen-fixing root system.
- Self-mulches through the layer of dropped needles.