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Atherosperma moschatum - Labill.

Common Name Black Sassafras
Family Atherospermataceae
USDA hardiness 8-11
Known Hazards The bark contains a potential carcinogen[152]. Another report says that the whole plant might be poisonous[4].
Habitats Temperate rainforests and moist gullies up to the sub-alpine zone[11, 152, 154].
Range Australia - New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Half Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Atherosperma moschatum Black Sassafras

Atherosperma moschatum Black Sassafras


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Atherosperma moschatum is an evergreen Tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 10 m (32ft).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 9. It is in leaf all year. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). .
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Canopy; South Wall. By. West Wall. By.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts:
Edible Uses: Tea

A pleasant tasting tea is made from the fresh or dried aromatic bark[2, 177, 183]. Some caution is advised in its use, see the notes on toxicity at top of the page.

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antiasthmatic  Antirheumatic  Aperient  Cardiac  Diaphoretic  Diuretic  Laxative  Tonic  

Antiasthmatic, antirheumatic, aperient, cardiac, diaphoretic, diuretic, laxative, tonic. A powerful poison, it is useful in treating rheumatism, syphilis and bronchitis[4, 152, 154].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Tropical Plants

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
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Other Uses

Essential  Wood

An essential oil is obtained from the plant, it is used medicinally[1]. Wood - tough, close grained, fairly soft, low in tannin. Used for cabinet making, turnery etc[154, 156].

Special Uses

Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Requires a rich well composted lime-free soil in full sun or semi-shade[200]. Succeeds in acid and neutral soils[184]. Plants are not very hardy in Britain, requiring greenhouse treatment in most areas, but they succeed outdoors in a woodland garden in the milder areas of the country[166]. Another report says that plants are fairly hardy when grown in a sheltered position[11]. A tree at Edinburgh Botanical Gardens is 3 metres tall and flowers annually, whilst there are trees 6 metres tall in Cornwall[11]. Plants can tolerate short-lived frosts to about -5°c if they are well sited and sheltered from cold drying winds[200]. Plants come into flower when they are quite young. All parts of the plant are aromatic[184, 245]. The flowers diffuse a sweet perfume whilst the nuts have a musk-like fragrance similar to nutmegs[245]. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required[184].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed - we have no details for this species but suggest sowing the seed in early spring in a warm greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Laurelia novae-zealandiaePukateaTree10.0 8-11  LMHSM012
Laurelia sempervirensChilean LaurelTree15.0 8-11  LMHSNM212

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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