Atherospermum moschatum   Sassafras Endemic

Atherosperma mochatum Atherosperma mochatum close

This is a conical, dominant tree of the temperate Tasmanian rainforest where the diversity of species is quite low. It is believed that the glacial periods after which Tasmania was cut off from the mainland of Australia contributed to the isolation which kept diversity low.

The nearest relative of this plant is found in Chile which supports the theory that much of the vegetation has been here since Australia was part of Gondwanaland. Sassafras is a south east Australian endemic found also in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland but not to be confused with another tree called Sassafras (Dyophora sassafras) which also grows there.

The leaves of A. moschatum are food for caterpillars of the MacLeay's Swallowtail butterfly.

Tahune Forest, Tasmania 27th August 2007

Added on 21st December 2007, updated 20th October 2008, updated 1st March 2010

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