Alice Springs Desert Park

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One of the iconic trees in Central Australia are the Desert Oaks (Allocasuarina decaisneana).

The shape of the juvenile tree is different to that of the adult tree, growing thin and straight in shape, some people describing them as looking like feather dusters. As the juvenile tree grows, it sends down a strong tap root looking for the water table and a reliable water supply. When they reach sufficient water they grow taller, sending out side branches, transforming into an adult tree with a weeping shape and smooth foliage.

The tree does not have leaves as such, but long segmented branchlets, known as cladodes, resembling long pine needles. Each of the needles is composed of thin striped segments, leaf stalks and linked by a ring of projections, each of which is actually a tiny leaf.

A slow-growing medium-sized tree, the desert oak is found in the arid desert regions of Central Australia, encompassing parts of the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. Visitors driving to and from Uluru, Kings Canyon and Rainbow Valley, can see them growing naturally in the landscape.

Check out Flora Index on the Desert Oaks and read about the importance of desert oaks to the Aboriginal people.

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  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Clade: Tracheophytes
  • Clade: Angiosperms
  • Clade: Eudicots
  • Clade: Rosids
  • Order: Fagales
  • Family: Casuarinaceae
  • Genus: Allocasuarina
  • Species: A. decaisneana
  • Binomial name: Allocasuarina decaisneana