Frequently Asked Questions About Australian Pines
Question:
Are Australian pines more likely to topple than other large trees because of shallow roots?
Answer:

Florida's Australian pines were introduced to the state more than a century ago to stabilize shorelines and to provide windbreaks, shade, and morning dew for crops. It would seem that if these trees toppled so easily, they’d be gone - but they’re not. They’ve been here more than one hundred years and they’re still as strong, majestic and cherished as ever. Native trees came down during the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005, as well as Australian pines. In many locations, replacing Australian pines with large native vegetation has been unsuccessful due to a low survival rate. 

   
Question:
Should all the Australian pines in Florida be eradicated?
Answer:

Eradication of exotic plants in Florida is only required by law when “scientific data indicate that they are detrimental to the state’s natural environment or when the Commissioner of Agriculture finds that such plants or specific populations thereof are a threat to the agricultural productivity of the state.” Australian pines on private property are not invading any natural environment and should not be targeted under the Invasive Exotic Control of Public Lands Act. Australian pines should be managed on all lands/property through topping and pruning, and should only be removed where they are proven to be a threat and there is no other option.

   
Question:
Will allowing Australian pines to replenish themselves endanger the rest of Florida?
Answer:

Uncontrolled spreading of Australian Pines is no longer ignored in Florida, as it has been for 100 years. In areas where Australian pines do not threaten the natural environment or agricultural productivity, controlled and monitored replenishing can insure that these high canopy deciduous trees continue to prevent increased global warming and benefit future generations.

   
Question:
Does State law require that Australian pines be replaced with indigenous plants?
Answer:

It is the intent of the Legislature to partially restore the character of the original domain of Florida by planting native trees on State lands, and to this end all State lands shall have a portion of such lands designated for indigenous trees. Therefore, planting only a portion of State lands with indigenous trees fulfills the mandate. No additional pines need to be removed to accommodate indigenous trees as, contrary to State propaganda, most native vegetation grows just fine next to, near, and/or under Australian pines. The statute further states that if the primary managing agency (the State) determines that any State lands are unsuitable for this purpose, such lands shall be exempt from this requirement.

   
Question:
What do Australian pines offer other than shade?
Answer:

Australian pines provide nesting habitat for bald eagles, anhingas, great horned owls, red shouldered hawks, cormorants, great blue herons, yellow crowned night herons and, occasionally, ospreys; perching/ roosting habitat for pelicans, bald eagles, ospreys and many species of songbirds; and year-round food for a variety of native and migratory birds. They also do a first class job of providing shade while still allowing significant light as well as the beautiful colors of the sky to beam through. Their slender trunks allow the sea breezes to flow along the ground unhindered. The soft sound of the wind singing through their limbs is unmatched by any other tree. Australian pines do not require watering, fertilizing or  maintenance, other than occasional "topping". The “needles” they drop make a perfect matting around picnic tables and a treasure house full of surprises that captivate inquisitive children.

   
Question:
Is the Australian pine really a pine?
Answer:

The Australian pine, also known as “ironwood”, “horsetail tree”, “she oak”, “beefwood”, “Australian oak”, or “whistling pine”, has a pine-like appearance but is not a pine (Pinus), an evergreen, or a conifer. Rather, it is a deciduous tree whose branchlets of scale-like leaves are mistaken for needles, and whose round brown fruits resemble acorns. The State of Florida promoted planting Australian pines, Casuarina equisetifolia and Casuarina cunninghamiaria, from the late 1800’s until the late 1900’s to prevent erosion, and to provide windbreaks, shade, and morning dew for crops. The airborne seeds of Casuarina grew quickly and Australian pine proliferated throughout south Florida, especially on the coasts. In 1990, environmental biologists demoted the wispy shade giver they once encouraged Floridians to plant by reclassifying it as an “invasive exotic”, thus demoting its status to “noxious weed”. A war against this now-popular tree is raging in the State of Florida – plans for its eradication are as prolific as the tree itself.

   
   

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