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Tasmannia lanceolata cutting
Tasmannia lanceolata cutting
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Canellales
Family: Winteraceae
Genus: Tasmannia

(not a complete list)
T. glaucifolia
T. lanceolata
T. membranea
T. piperita
T. purpurascens
T. stipitata
T. xerophila

Tasmannia is a genus of woody, evergreen flowering plants of the family Winteraceae. The species of Tasmannia are native to Australia, New Guinea, Celebes, Borneo, and Philippines. The Winteraceae are palaeodicots, and are considered one of the most primitive flowering plants because of the floral anatomy and wood structure. They are associated with the humid Antarctic flora of the southern hemisphere. The members of the family generally have aromatic bark and leaves, and some are used to extract essential oils. The peppery-flavored fruits and leaves (esp. dried) of this genus are increasingly used as a condiment in Australia. The peppery flavour come from a pungent compounds called polygodial.


The species of Tasmannia were formerly classified in genus Drimys, a related group of Winteraceae native to the Neotropic. Recent studies have led to an increasing consensus among botanists to split the genus into two, with the Neotropical species remaining in genus Drimys, and the Australasian species classified in genus Tasmannia.

In Australia, the Tasmannia genus ranges from Tasmania and eastern Victoria and New South Wales to southeastern Queensland, and in the mountains of northeastern Queensland, where it grows in moist mountain forests and in wet areas in the drier forest and along watercourses to an elevation of 1500 metres.

Culinary Use

Tasmanian pepper or mountain pepper (T. lanceolata, often referred to as Drimys lanceolata or T. aromatica) was the original pepperbush used by colonial Australians. Introduced into cultivation in Cornwall, U.K., to become the 'Cornish pepperleaf' associated with Cornish cuisine. It is an attractive dioecious shrub which grows up to 10 m, but more typically 2-3 m in height in an open form, with lance-shaped dark green leaves and reddish stems.

Other Tasmannia species are also used as Australian spices, especially Tasmannia xerophila, alpine pepper, and Tasmannia stipitata, Dorrigo Pepper.

List of Tasmannia species and notes:

  • T. glaucifolia - Fragrant Pepperbush Reported to be high in polygodial but also contains high safrole levels which limits culinary use.
  • T. insipida - Brush Pepperbush Native to the subtropics. Usually has little flavour in the leaf, hence the name. However, the seed has the distinctive pepper flavour.
  • T. lanceolata - Mountain Pepperbush (Aus) or Cornish Pepperleaf (UK) The most commonly available commercial bush pepper. Safrole free cultivars are being developed.
  • T. membraneaPepper Tree Native to the highlands of north-eastern Queensland.
  • T. piperita - Native to New Guinea.
  • T. purpurascens - Broad Leaf Pepperbush. Contains high polygodial levels. Is a shrub or small tree, 1-3 m high and 1.5 m wide, endemic to the Gloucester Tops and Barrington Tops in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia, where it grows abundantly in moist Eucalyptus forest above 1300 meters elevation.
  • T.xerophila, Alpine or Snow Pepper. Contains the essential oil isolate myristicin and reputed to have high levels of polygodial. Available commercially as a spice.

See also


  • Doust, Andrew N. and Drinnan, Andrew N., 2004. Floral development and molecular phylogeny support the generic status of Tasmannia (Winteraceae). American Journal of Botany 91: 321–331.
  • Sampson, F.B., Williams, J.B. and Woodland, Poh S., The Morphology and Taxonomic Position of Tasmannia glaucifolia (Winteraceae), 1988. A New Australian Species. Australian Journal of Botany 36 (4): 395–414.
  • Smith, Keith and Irene. 1999. Grow your own bushfoods. New Holland Publishers, Sydney, Australia.
  • Robins, Juleigh. 1996. Wild Lime: Cooking from the bushfood garden. Allen & Unwin Pty Ltd, Sydney, Australia.
  • Bryant, Geoff. 2005. The Random House Enyclopedia of Australian Native Plants. Random House, Sydney, Australia.
  • Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Flora's native plants. ABC Books, Sydney, Australia.
  • Low, Tim. 1991. Wild food plants of Australia. Angus & Robertson Publishers, Sydney, Australia.

External links