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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    (0 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).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 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: 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



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.


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].


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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


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].


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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

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

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 :

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Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Laurelia novae-zealandiaePukateaTree10.0 8-11  LMHSM01 
Laurelia sempervirensChilean LaurelTree15.0 8-11  LMHSNM21 

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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Botanical References


Links / References

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Subject : Atherosperma moschatum  
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