pacific ironwood

Casuarina equisetifolia
Bois de fer
‘Aito, Toa

Interesting facts

The ancients called this tree "Toa", which also means "warrior". In the 19th century, the Pomary "took" this word and it became taboo.  The names of both the warrior and he tree has changed to "’Aito". The ‘Aito is known for its rot resistant, sturdy, and heavy wood. It is used in construction, and was once used in the manufacture of weapons (spears, clubs, etc.). This tree is very sacred and was planted around marae. It is the symbol of 'Oro, the god of war. Its reddish colored sap represents the blood of this god. Sculptures are carved into its wood in the likeness of 'Oro. Even though it looks like a conifer, it is in reality an angiosperm (a leafy or flowering plant) and not a gymnosperm (a cone bearing plant). This confusion is due to its leaves that are very fine and needle-like, but this tree very much produces flowers (males and females separated). It can grow more than 100 feet tall.

Family

Casuarinaceae

Biogeographical status

Polynesian introduction

Life form

tree

Abundance on Tetiaroa

Common

Ecosystem on Tetiaroa

mixed forest, beach

sources
legend

S: Society | T: Tuamotu | M: Marquesas | G: Gambier | A: Australs | FP: French Polynesia