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"I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree."
- Joyce Kilmer.
When you look at calendars that feature beachscapes from Hawaii, the Far East and the West Indies you always see coconut palms. Take a picture of a Bahamian beach and, if there are any trees at all, there will be casuarinas.
Casuarinas come to us from Australia and are pervasive. They take over. Many countries - and our neighbouring state of Florida - have declared war on casuarinas. It is only now that people in The Bahamas are wondering where all those trees came from and what to do about them.
Nothing, by and large. If you were able to remove all the casuarinas in The Bahamas at one fell swoop, you'd have to buy a lot of beach umbrellas to replace them. Casuarinas are, often enough, the only shade we can find at the beach.
Some of the defenders of the casuarina are somewhat misguided. They say the trees protect the beach against erosion, which is true only while they stand. The roots of casuarina trees are shallow and spread over the ground instead of establishing tap roots. Visit Bahama Palm Shores if you want to find out how resistant casuarinas are to quite mild hurricanes. They heel over very readily.
Don't rush out and cut down your casuarina trees, however. What else will you have to give you shade? Their greatest virtue is: they are there. If you have beachfront property and wish to remove your casuarinas, cut them down low - just enough to give shade -and keep them alive while you raise out at least four or five years of substitute growth before you do remove them. The roots of the reduced trees will help prevent sand erosion but will not have enough wind resistance to be blown over.
The native plants you use to replace them are within easy reach, just down the shore a little. And they're free.
Instead of declaring war on casuarinas, place an embargo against them. And if you like casuarinas, by all means keep them.
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