Family • Casuarinaceae - Casuarina equisetifolia Linn. - IRON WOOD - Ma wei shu

Scientific names

Casuarina equisetifolia Linn.
Casuarina litorea L. var. litorea
Casuarina litorea Rumpheus ex Stickman
Mu ma huang (Chin.)n

Common names

Ago (Ibn., Neg.) Ayo (Bis.)
Agoho (Tag., Ilk., Bis., Bik.) Karo (Ilk.)
Agoo (Pang., Ilk., Kuy.) Mahohok (Mbo.)
Agoko (Pang.) Malabohok (Bis.)
Ago-o (Ilk.) Maribuhok (Bis.)
Agoso (Pang., Tag.) Iron wood (Engl.)
Ague (Ibn.) Australian beefwood (Engl.)
Alaut (Bon.) Beach she-oak (Engl.)
Antong (Is.) Horsetail casuarina (Engl.)
Aroo (Ilk.) Whistling pine (Engl.)
Aroho (Ilk., Ting.) Ma wei shu (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Duan zhi mu ma huang, bo gu shu
FIJI: Noko noko
FRENCH: Bois de fer, filao, pin d’Australie
GERMAN: Eisenholz, strandkasuarine
PORTUGESE: Pinheiro-da-Australia


Agoho is a large, evergreen tree, tall and straight, up to 20 meters high. Crown is narrowly pyramidal, resembling some of the conifers in appearance. Bark is brown and rough. Branchlets are very slender, about 20 centimeters long, mostly deciduous, composed of many joints. Internodes are about 1 centimeter long, somewhat 6- or 8-angled. Flowers are unisexual. Staminate spikes are slender, 1 to 3 centimeters long. Cones are usually ellipsoid, 1 to 2 centimeters long, composed of about 12 rows of achenes enclosed in the hardened bracts.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) In vitro Antibacterial Screening and Toxicity Study of Some Different Medicinal Plants / Rajib Ahsan et al / World Journal of Agricultural Sciences 5 (5):617-621,2009.

(2) Hepatoprotective Activity of Methanol Extract of Some Medicinal Plants Against Carbon Tetrachloride Induced Hepatotoxicity in Albino Rats / Rajib Ahsan et al / Global Journal of Pharmacology, 3 (3): 116-122, 2009

(3) Casuarina equisetifolia (tree) / Global Invasive Species Database


(5) Antioxidant Activity of Isolated Phytoconstituents from Casuarina equisetifolia Frost (Casuarinaceae) / A.N. Aher, S.C. Pal, S.K. Yadav, U.K. Patil and S. Bhattacharya / Journal of Plant Sciences, 4: 15-20. / DOI: 10.3923/jps.2009.15.20

– Throughout the Philippines along sandy seashores, extending inland in open sandy valleys along streams.
– Sometimes growing at altitudes as high as 800 meters.
– Cultivated in Manila and large towns as an ornamental foliage tree or hedge plant.
– Also planted to check erosion.
– Also occurs in Tropics of the Old World from Africa to Polynesia, near the sea.
– Now pantropic in cultivation.


– Plant yielded kaempferol, quercetin, alicylic acids, amino acids, taraxarol, lupenone, lupeol, gallic acid, ß-sitosterol, catechin, and gallo-catechin.
– Phytochemical screening yielded alkaloids, flavonoids, triterpenoids, carbohydrates, tannins, phenols, gums, and mucilage.
– Bark yields 18% tannin.
– Tannins from the bark were catechin, ellagic acid, and gallic acid.
– Leaf and fruit yielded flavonoid and lupeol.
– Coloring matter is casuarin.

– Resembles a pine tree in appearance.
– Considered antidiarrheal, anticancer, antibacterial, antifungal.
– Bark considered astringent, emmenagogue, ecbolic and tonic.
– Phytosterols from leaves considered antibacterial, hypoglycemic, antifungal, mollusicidal, cytotoxic.
– Seeds considered anthelmintic, antispasmodic and antidiabetic.

Parts used

Bark, leaves.


– Infusionn of branches used as diuretic.
– Leaves used for colic.
– Bark used as astringent.
– Bark decoction used as emmenagogue; in large doses, an ecbolic.
– Used for stomach aches, diarrhea, dysentery and nervous disorders.
– Decoction of bark used for hemoptysis.
– Used for cough, asthma, and diabetes.
– In India and Malaya, bark used for diarrhea and dysentery; also used for beriberi.
– In Malaya and Sarawak, decoction of twigs used in making a lotion for swellings.
– In Malaya, powdered bark used for pimples.
– In Macassar, decoction of bark used for colic.
– In Samoa, bark infusion used for coughs, asthma, and diabetes.
– Infusion of bark used as tonic; decoction used for chronic diarrhea and dysentery.

– Wood used for fuel; making poles and rafters.
– Tannin fromm the bark used for tanning and dyeing.

Study Findings
• Antibacterial: In a study of seven medicinal plants investigated for antibacterial and toxic activities, C. equisetifolia exhibited strong activity against S aureus, B subtilis and S sonnei.  Casuarina equisetifolia was one of 12 medicinal plants studied for antibacterial activity against B subtilis, S epidermis, Pseudomonas pseudoalcaligenes, P vulgaris and S typhimurium.
• Hepatoprotective: C. equisetifolia was one for four medicinal plants that showed dose-dependent protection against carbon tetrachloride induced hepatocellular injury in rats.
• Antidiabetic / Hypolipidemic: Study of ethanolic extract showed reduced blood sugar in STZ-induced diabetic rats. There was also a significant reduction in total cholesterol, LDL, VLDL, with an improvement in HDL cholesterol.
• Antioxidant / Antimicrobial / Anti-Aggregating Properties: Study showed the condensed tannins extracted from C. equisetifolia exhibited considerable DPPH radical scavenging activity and ferric reducing antioxidant power. Extracts also showed moderate hemolytic action and potent antimicrobial effect on Bacillus proteus, B. subtilis, K. pneumonia, and Aspergillus fumigatus.
• Antiasthmatic: Study of ethanol extract of bark showed significant dose-dependent antiasthmatic activity in various in vitro and in vivo animal models..