Sarasota News Leader

09/27/2013

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FRIEND OR FOE? Australian pines provide shade at Ken Thompson Park. Photo by Rick Wielgorecki PEOPLE REMAIN DIVIDED IN THEIR VIEWS OF AUSTRALIAN PINES By Rick Wielgorecki Contributing Writer Avid gardener, Renaissance man and third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson was known to have suffered all his life from migraine headaches because of a debate that ravaged his consciousness. One part of him believed it was vital to pursue a life of public service to mankind and his country. The other part argued that it was better for him to live a life close to home and hearth, working on a multitude of projects at his beloved Monticello. He referred to it as an internal struggle between his head and his heart. On one side, my heart beholds the aesthetic beauty of the tree. Growing to a height of 100 feet or more, it stands out spectacularly in our peninsular environment that has few statuesque trees. When growing near our beaches, it provides welcome shady relief from the unrelenting sun. The Casuarina (which includes some 17 species) is not without practical value, either, serving as a soil acidifier when mulched in some of the Pacific islands where it is a native. It also serves as a source of lumber there. When I consider the pros and cons of the More whimsically, I can remember the feelAustralian pine, I have similarly conflicting ing of tiptoeing as a barefoot child under Austhoughts. tralian pines, vainly attempting to avoid the

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