Backyard Buddies

Photo: john-Tann


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Sheoaks are very unusual plants because they have separate male and female plants. Each year the males will turn a dusky red colour as they release their pollen. The female trees have small red flowers and lots of seed cones.

The sheoak doesn’t have big leaves, instead they have branchlets with different segments. They do have miniature leaves that you can see when you snap a branchlet on one of its joins.

The sheoak is also called a casuarina because their branchlets look very similar to a cassowary feather.

Australia’s own superhero

Sheoaks are like the popular kids in wildlife school. Everyone wants to hang out with the sheoak.

From the pollen on the tips of the branches, right down to the nodules on the roots, there is food and shelter for a wide-range of buddies.

The Glossy Black Cockatoo will only eat the seeds from a sheoak. Land clearing has meant these birds are now nationally endangered. Planting sheoaks in your garden could help feed these rare buddies.

The long pine needles attract plenty of insects for the insectivorous buddies like fantail birds to eat. Small mammals like bandicoots enjoy digging up the little nodules from the roots.

Sheoaks also fertilise the soil for your garden plants, offer great protection from high wind areas, keep down weed growth, and help prevent and improve soil erosion.

You can plant these super sheoaks anytime of year and watch them quickly grow into trees up to 30 metres. You can also grow smaller sheoaks that cover the ground and offer shelter to lizards.

They are frost and drought tolerant and can live in just about any climatic condition you can throw at them.

Simple things that you do can make a huge difference to Australia’s animals. That’s why the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife is running Backyard Buddies – to give you tips to help.

What is a backyard buddy?

Backyard buddies are the native plants and animals that share our built-up areas, our beaches and waterways, our backyards and our parks. The sheoak is a backyard buddy.

Backyard buddies are also the local people who value the living things around them, like the sheoak, and are willing to protect and encourage them by doing a few simple things around their own homes.

Be a backyard buddy

It’s easy. All you have to do is care... and take a few simple steps. Step one is to find out what sheoaks do and do not like.

So you can be a backyard buddy.

Sheoaks love:

But they don't like:

Find out more about your buddies

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