Tasmanian Summit Cedar (Athrotaxis x laxifolia)


Athrotaxis x laxifolia, (syn. Athrotaxis laxifolia) known as the Tasmanian Summit Cedar is a medium-sized evergreen coniferous tree native to the high country and rainforests of central and western Tasmania. These trees are thought to possibly be a hybrid of Athrotaxis cupressoides and Athrotaxis selaginoides because individual trees are only found in areas where the other species occur. The foliage is also intermediate in appearance between the other two species. The Tasmanian Summit Cedar grows to 20 metres in height with a spread of 3 to 5 metres, live up to 1300 years and grows very slowly (1-2 mm in diameter each year). The male and female cones are found on the same tree and the main method of seed dispersal is by the wind. In most garden settings on the mainland, expect heights between 8 to 10 metres with spreads of 3 to 4 metres, under optimal growing conditions.

All Athrotaxis species are very susceptible to bushfires, drought and drying winds, and have declined markedly in abundance due to accidental and deliberate fires, clearing and overlogging since the European colonization of Tasmania. The wood is scented and durable, and was extensively used in the past in Tasmania, but is now too rare for any cutting. All three make beautiful ornamental trees with luxuriant foliage, though they are generally only planted in arboretums or botanical gardens. Cultivation away from their native range is successful only in areas with high rainfall, mild winters, and cool summers, such as parts of south-eastern Australia, the British Isles, the Pacific Northwest of North America, and New Zealand. The Tasmanian Summit Cedar grows in moist but well-drained, moderately fertile, humus-rich, slightly acidic soil in full sun and shelter from cold winds. It thrives in areas with cool, humid summer oceanic climates.


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