Tasmannia lanceolata

Tasmannia lanceolata
Tasmannia lanceolata
Mount Donna Buang, Victoria, Australia
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Magnoliids
Order: Canellales
Family: Winteraceae
Genus: Tasmannia
Species: T. lanceolata
Binomial name
Tasmannia lanceolata
(Poir.) A.C.Sm.
  • Drimys aromatica (R.Br.) F.Muell.
  • Drimys lanceolata (Poir.) Baill.
  • Tasmannia aromatica R.Br.
  • Winterana lanceolata Poir.
  • Winterania lanceolata orth. var. Poir.

Tasmannia lanceolata (syn. Drimys lanceolata), commonly known as the mountain pepper (Aus), or Cornish pepper leaf (UK), is a shrub native to woodlands and cool temperate rainforest of south-eastern Australia. The shrub varies from 2 to 10 m high. The aromatic leaves are lanceolate to narrow-elliptic or oblanceolate, 4–12 cm long, and 0.7–2.0 cm wide, with a distinctly pale undersurface. Stems are quite red in colour. The small cream or white flowers appear in summer and are followed by black, globose, two-lobed berries 5–8 mm wide, which appear in autumn.[1][2][3] There are separate male and female plants.[4]

Originally described by French botanist Jean Louis Marie Poiret, it gained its current name in 1969 by A.C. Smith. It had been known for many years as Drimys lanceolata.

Also known as Tasmanian pepperberry, it is found from Tasmania, northwards through Victoria to Barrington Tops in New South Wales. It is found in gullies in rainforest.[5]


Leaves and berries of the Mountain pepper
Dried and crushed Mountain pepper leaves

Polygodial has been identified as the primary active compound in Tasmannia lanceolata, and is also responsible for its peppery taste.

The leaf and berry are used as a spice, typically dried. Mountain pepper was used as a colonial pepper substitute.[6] More recently, it has become popularised as bushfood condiment. It can be added to curries, cheeses, and alcoholic beverages. It is exported to Japan to flavour wasabi. The berries are sweet at first with a peppery aftertaste.[4] Dried T. lanceolata berries and leaves have strong antimicrobial activity against food spoilage organisms. It also has high antioxidant activity.[7] Low safrole clonal selections are grown in plantations for commercial use, as safrole is considered a low-risk toxin.[8]

Used in colonial medicine as a substitute for Winter's bark,[6] a stomachic, it was also used for treating scurvy.[9] Mountain pepper is one of a number of native Australian herbs and food species being supported by the Australian Native Food Industry Ltd, which brings together producers of food species from all parts of Australia.[10] The pepperberry can be used as a fish poison.[4]

It can be grown as a garden plant, and its berries attract birds.[11] Currawongs are among those which feed on them.[4] It can be propagated from cuttings or seed, and can grow in a well-drained acidic soil with some shade, but is sensitive to Phytophthora cinnamomi.[4]

Garden cultivars include 'Mt. Wellington', a compact plant with coppery new growth,[12] and 'Suzette', a variegated cultivar.[13]


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tasmannia lanceolata.
  1. Beadle, N.C.W., Evans, O.D., Carolin, R.C., Flora of the Sydney Region, A.H. & A.W. Reed, 1976, ISBN 0-589-07086-X
  2. Tasmannia lanceolata, NSW Flora Online
  3. Floyd, A.G., Rainforest Trees of Mainland South-eastern Australia, Inkata Press, 1989, ISBN 0-909605-57-2
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. "Tasmannia lanceolata" (PDF). Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment website. Tasmanian Government. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
  5. Fairley A, Moore P (2000). Native Plants of the Sydney District:An Identification Guide (2nd ed.). Kenthurst, NSW: Kangaroo Press. pp. 52–53. ISBN 0-7318-1031-7.
  6. 1 2 Maiden, J.H., The Useful Native Plants of Australia, Turner & Henderson, Sydney, 1889
  7. Zhao, J., Agboola, S., Functional Properties of Australian Bushfoods - A Report for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, 2007, RIRDC Publication No 07/030
  8. Menary, R.C., Drager, V.A., Garland, S.A., Tasmannia lanceolata - Developing a New Commercial Flavour Product, Rural Industries and Development Corporation, 1999.
  9. Ewart, A.J., Flora of Victoria, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1930.
  10. http://www.anfil.org.au
  11. "Fact Sheet: PLANT DIARY: Tasmannia lanceolata". Gardening Australia Website. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. April 5, 2002. Retrieved 2009-08-12.
  12. Cally Gardens plant list
  13. Plant profile, Bluebell Arboretum and Nursery
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