This is a dimly lit grove of sheoaks, or allocasurinas to use their latin name, near Walpole in the south-west of Australia (they are actually Karri Sheoks). Of the 45 species of casurina trees found in Australia, most are endemic to Western Australia. However there are some of these trees in Indonesia, and one species is found in Madagascar and Reunion Island.
So casurina trees ring the Indian Ocean. When the wind blows through their thin, needle-like leaves it creates a high, whistling sound just like the sound of wind blowing through the rigging of yachts with their sails down. They are important trees to me because they are marker of continuity between Reunion Island, where I stayed a few years ago, and Perth, to otherwise entirely different locales. When I see one, or when I hear the sound of the wind in its needles, I can be transported to the hot, volcanic sands on other side of the sea.
My dad built this chest of drawers out of casurina timber. Perhaps the English saw another line of continuity with the similarity to the grain of the oak of the British Isles, and that’s why they called this tree ‘sheoak’ (after I wrote this blog entry my brother told me quercus robur, or oak, was sometimes called the ‘He-oak’ in English dialects, due to it’s manliness). All I know for sure is that its fine, amber-coloured veins make it the most beautiful wood in Western Australia.