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Pencil pine

Athrotaxis cupressoides


An evergreen coniferous tree in the cypress family growing to 10–20 m tall, with a trunk up to 1.5 m diameter. The leaves are scale-like, 3–6 mm long and 2–3 mm broad, arranged spirally on the shoots. This species often has a distinctly conical shape (hence the name, Pencil Pine), especially when growing in open alpine and subalpine vegetation. It is rarely a tall tree, but can have massive trunks (>1.5 m diameter) and live for more than 1000 years. The female cones are typically about 12-15 mm in diameter, and the scales are blunt-ended with a small scale on the end.


It is endemic to Tasmania. It is fire sensitive and is found in most unburnt, high altitude areas especially on or near the Central Plateau. It isn't known in the north-east, and only occurs in a few areas of the South-West. The genus has one other species (A. selaginoides), which is also endemic to southern, western and central Tasmania. The two species hybridise (producing A. x laxifolia).


The species is threatened, with the major cause of decline being out-of-control bushfires set to clear logging debris after timber harvests in nearby Eucalyptus forests.

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Tasmania, Australia

Spotted on Jun 26, 2011
Submitted on Jun 29, 2011

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