Australian Pine, also know as Casuarina, was introduced in the late 1800's to be used as windbreaks, lumber, and shade. Today Australian Pine (60-70 ft.) is commonly found in natural areas towering over and dominating native plants. Dune habitats are particularly susceptible to this invader. Here, it is displacing native vegetation important in preventing dune erosion and also disruption sea turtle nesting. It's shallow root system results in significant property damage during storms.
Though it resembles a pine, it is from a different plant group. It's so-called "needles" are jointed cylindrical branches arranged in whorls. The plant also produces a cone-like woody capsule 1/2 to 3/4 inches wide.
Seed dispersal is primarily by wind, water, and birds throughout the year. In addition, some Australian pines may rapidly increase their numbers by reproducing from root suckers.
A large amount of acidic litter accumulates underneath Australian pines, inhibiting growth of competing species. Additionally, the root system maintains a beneficial relationship with soil bacteria that allows nitrogen in the soil to become available for plant growth giving the plant a distinct competitive edge.