Huon Pine

Lagarostrobos franklinii (Hook. f.) Quinn

Huon pine is a medium-sized to tall tree, occasionally reaching 38 m in height and 1.8 m in diameter, but frequently less than 20 m tall. It usually has a straight trunk, but is often forked in the crown. The trees are not buttressed, and the crown consists of light green weeping foliage.

This species has a limited distribution in south-western Tasmania. The most easterly occurrence is just west of Judbury, towards the confluence of the Huon and Little Denison Rivers—although the species used to grow at Ranelagh.

This species grows along the banks of rivers, on swampy flats or near lakes, usually 'with its feet in water'. Soils along streams are often undeveloped, with pockets of sandy alluvium between boulders, but elsewhere they are peats or peaty clays. Many of the soils seem to have free water in the profile throughout the year.

Huon pine grows in cool temperate rainforest (nano-phyll moss forest) associated with myrtle beech (Notho-fagus cunninghamii), southern sassafras (Atherosperma moschatum) and celery top pine (Phyllocladus aspleniifo-lius). Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) is common on swampy sites. There is often an understorey of laurel (Anopterus glandulosus) or horizontal (Anodopetalum biglandulosum).

Huon pine is one of Australia's longest-lived species. From the annual rings, the age of trees and logs may be estimated fairly accurately and ages of up to 5000 years are estimated. This species is one of the few conifers that can form clonal thickets by vegetative reproduction; where a branch touches the ground, it becomes covered and forms roots.

Related species: Huon pine is the only species in the genus Lagarostrobos, which is endemic to Tasmania. It was formerly considered to belong to the genus Dacrydium of which there are about 20 species, scattered from Malaysia to Chile; of the 7 in New Zealand, rimu (D. cupressinum) is the most important timber tree. Podocarpaceae in Australia was reviewed by Hill (1998).

Publication: Aust. J. Bot. 30, 316 (1982). Type: Huon River, Macquarie Harbour (sic), Tasmania, 1819, R.C. Gunn 1248.

Names: Botanical—Greek lagaros (loose), strobos (cone), referring to the open structure of the female cone; franklinii, honours Sir John Franklin (1786-1847) naval captain, arctic explorer and also governor of Tasmania (1836-43). Common—after the river on the banks of which the species occurs; the river itself was named in honour of Captain Huon de Kermadec, commander of the French ship Esperance.

Bark: Light brown in colour and rather scaly.

Leaves: Cotyledons—two, sessile, linear, about 0.2 X 0.1 cm, blunt tipped. Seedling—spirally arranged, linear, about 0.2 X 0.05 cm and sharply pointed. Adult—reduced to tiny scale-like leaves, spirally arranged on twigs, keeled on the outer surface and with scattered white stomatal pores; leaf tips are blunt.

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