cupressoides (Pencil Pine) is a native tree or erect shrub
mostly found in open alpine and subalpine vegetation, although it
can also occur as a rainforest tree. It is endemic to Tasmania. It
is fire sensitive and is found in most unburnt, high altitude areas especially on or near the Central Plateau. It
isn't known in the north-east, and only occurs in a few areas of the
South-West. The genus has one other species (A.
selaginoides), which is also endemic to southern, western
and central Tasmania. The two species hybridise (producing
A. x laxifolia).
Athrotaxis has spirally arranged, single-veined leaves, and
woody cones. The leaves of A. cupressoides are small
(about 2-3mm long and wide) and scale-like. This species often has a
distinctly conical shape (hence the name, Pencil Pine), especially
when growing in open alpine and subalpine vegetation. It is rarely a
tall tree, but can have massive trunks (>1.5 m diameter) and live
for more than 1000 years. The female
cones are typically about 12-15 mm in diameter, and the scales are
blunt-ended with a small scale on the end.