Sassafras
dynamically bold
Atherosperma moschatum

 

Also known as Blackheart Sassafras or Tasmanian Sassafras. Blackheart Sassafras is an under-storey evergreen tree, growing extremely well in the cool temperate rainforests of Tasmania and reaches heights of around 25 metres. Tasmanian Sassafras is not related to the Sassafras found on mainland Australia, it has distinctive qualities which include an oil that is highly aromatic smelling like cinnamon and the leaves have a sarsaparilla scent. Sassafras has the most variable and dynamic colouring, the most spectacular being the Blackheart Sassafras. The blackheart occurs in very few trees, it is an unusual viral fungus, which usually affects the tree after storm damage or crown damage. The fungus causes streaks through the heartwood, ranging from light brown through to purple, green and black. No two pieces of Blackheart Sassafras are the same and each saw log has its own unique features thus making each cut board a “one off” exclusive piece. Sassafras is highly valued in the furniture making industry for its ease of working, and beautiful creamy grey colour, and is regarded by many as an intermediate between softwood and hardwood.

fact sheet & information

Common Name

Blackheart Sassafras, Tasmanian Sassafras.

Scientific name

Atherosperma moschatum.

Tree size

15-25m tall, 0.6-1.0m trunk diameter.

Colour / Appearance

Heartwood is naturally a grey to golden grown. Some trees are infected with a staining fungus which causes colourful streaks and veins of dark brown and black, giving rise to the common name Blackheart Sassafras. Sapwood is a pale yellow to whitish brown.

Grain / Texture

Grain is straight, with a uniform fine to medium texture. Low natural luster.

End grain

Diffuse-porous; sometimes exclusively solitary, or with radial multiples; small pores in no specific arrangement, numerous; parenchyma absent; narrow rays, spacing normal; coloured heartwood fluoresces under blacklight.

Rot resistance

Rated as non-durable to perishable.

Odour

No characteristic odour.

Availability

Usually only imported as smaller craft and turning blanks, larger boards and slabs are much more common within its native range in Australia.

Common uses

Cabinetry, furniture, flooring, musical instruments, carvings, and turned objects.

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