Tasmanian Black-Heart Sassafras (Atherosperma moschatum) is a native tree of Tasmania’s temperate rain forest; it also grows in Victoria and parts of NSW but is most common here in Tassie. It has been a highly sought after timber for use in everything from guitars to furniture for the last couple of hundred years for a couple of reasons: it is easy to work and looks great.

Sassafras B
Sassafras Trees, Maydena, Tasmania – ABC News: Gregor Salmon

It is a lightish timber and reasonably fine grained but it’s most outstanding feature is the striking dark streaks through the centre of the logs. The dark streaks are actually stains caused by fungus – which sounds a bit gross but is really fine, the fungus just stains the timber. This also happens in some pines as well; not uncommon for old Baltic Pine to have similar stains – but it just doesn’t look as nice.

Sassafras A
Cross section of large Sassafras log –

Great timber to use: easy to plane, sands well, excellent for wood turning, is quite strong – just a terrific all round timber. It can be sourced from saw mills without any problem but we get most of ours from ‘shed finds’; many Tassie workshops and sheds have a stash of old Sassafras laying round.


Tasmanian Timber: