Black Sheoak branch and leaves
© A. McWhirter

The Black Sheoak is often described as having ‘pine needles’, but in actual fact has ‘cladodes’ with minute leaves arranged around each joint. Gently pull one apart and you will be left with, what looks like, a tiny crown. Each point on the crown is the leaf. This is an adaption that enables the Sheoak to retain precious moisture in Australia’s often arid climate. 

Like peas and beans, the Sheoak is able to ‘fix’ nitrogen in the soil through nodes of symbiotic bacteria on their roots. This is critical for other species that depend on this natural fertiliser to grow in Australia’s poor soils. 

The Black Sheoak is an important food tree for the threatened Glossy Black-Cockatoo who returns to preferred feeding trees - sometimes only one tree within a stand of Black Sheoaks will be chosen. 

In the past, Black Sheoak wood was the preferred fuel for bakery ovens as it burns at very high temperatures.

Image courtesy of Australian National Botanic Gardens. Photographer: A.McWhirter