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Athrotaxis cupressoides

(Pencil pine)

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Athrotaxis cupressoides, first described in 1838 by David Don (1799–1841), is commonly known as Pencil pine, although it’s not a member of the Pine family.

Description. Pencil pine is an evergreen coniferous tree which grows to a mature height of 30 to 60 feet (10 – 20 m) tall, with a trunk up to 3 feet (1 m) in diameter at breast height. The leaves are scale-like, 0.12 to 0.24 inch (3 – 6 mm) long and 0.08 to 0.12 inch (2 – 3 mm) broad, arranged spirally on the shoots. The seed cones are globose, 0.4 to 0.6 inch (10 – 16 mm) in diameter, with 10 to 16 spirally-arranged scales; they are mature about six months after pollination. The pollen cones are 0.12 to 0.2 inch (3 – 5 mm) long.

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native range of Athrotaxis cupressoides. ©A.Farjon, 2013. Athrotaxis cupressoides, from the website, Threatened Conifers of The World (http://threatenedconifers.rbge.org.uk/taxa/details/829).

Distribution. This species is native to Australia — Tasmania, where it grows at 2,200 to 4,000 feet (700 – 1,300 m) of elevation. The species is threatened, with the major cause of decline being out-of-control bush fires set to clear logging debris after timber harvests in nearby Eucalyptus forests; a large proportion of the species’ range was severely affected by major fires in 1960 – 1961. Disease caused by Phytophthora species has also been identified as a cause of dieback. Regeneration is also hampered by introduced sheep and rabbits.

Away from its native range, it is occasionally cultivated as an ornamental tree in northwestern Europe.

Attributed from: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

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