Horizontal Scrub

Horizontal scrub, 1900 (AOT PH30/1/4829)

'Horizontal Scrub', Anodopetalum biglandulosum, ('horizontal'), is a slender, prolific tree which has frustrated the progress of travellers in Tasmanian rainforests. Its common name refers to its habit of extending vertical branches which then topple over, creating almost impenetrable layers of scrub.

Van Diemen's Land Company surveyor Henry Hellyer was perhaps the first European to document horizontal's hazards when, in 1827, he battled a tract of it near the Campbell Range, south-west of modern-day Burnie. The legend grew of explorers and mineral prospectors treading perilously on a platform of horizontal high above the ground, and of a mossy, rotten branch which would despatch them into the bowels of the forest, sometimes fatally. Although deliberate travel of this kind is unlikely, many have clambered short distances on or through horizontal before discovering that the ground is several metres below them. This endemic tree is used in ornamental woodcraft.

Further reading: N Haygarth, 'A walk on the wilderness', THRAPP 51/2, 2004.

Nic Haygarth