Australian pines are a cause of contention in River Bridge, a planned community of 1,100 homes in the City of Greenacres in Palm Beach County. Some residents want these trees removed; others defend them.
The River Bridge Property Owners Association in 2011 took a hands-off approach, noting that a county requirement to remove existing Australian pines (also called Casuarina trees) applies only within 500 feet of a designated natural area.
The fuss over River Bridge’s Australian pines arose for several reasons. Their defenders like their stately appearance and the dense shade they provide, but opponents note that they spread aggressively; they have thick, shallow, broad roots that overrun lawns; and they emit a chemical that discourages the growth of other plant species nearby. Also, their brittle wood breaks easily. Entire trees are prone to topple in high winds.
Australian pines also invade beaches, where their sprawling root system discourages sea turtles and American crocodiles from nesting.
Crawling, Flying and Creeping
Australian pines are not the only invasive species giving Floridians a major headache. Giant snakes, snails and rats are threatening to upset the ecosystem of the Sunshine State.