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This is a small, southern family with a disjunct distribution in Malesia and Australasia, and again in Central and South America. In Australia it is an eastern family distributed in rainforests and wet sclerophyll forests, often at high elevation, from north Queensland to Tasmania.

Characteristic features of the family Winteraceae in Australia include:

  • shrubs or small trees with aromatic leaves and bark, the former often with a peppery taste
  • leaves alternate, simple, entire, glabrous, dark green and shining
  • flowers cream or white, in umbels or cymes near the tip of a shoot
  • sepals fused into a cap; petals several, free or fused at the base
  • stamens usually numerous, often somewhat flattened, with dorsally-attached anthers
  • ovary superior, of several free, stalked carpels, each developing into a black, glossy, fleshy or hard berry


Evergreen trees or shrubs. Internal secretions not obvious. Plants glabrous. Leaves alternate and spiral, or apparently whorled, petiolate. Stipules absent. Lamina simple, symmetric, filiform, acicular, subulate, linear, lanceolate, ovate, elliptic, oblanceolate or obovate; base cuneate, attenuate, lobed or auriculate; margins entire, ±flat, revolute or recurved; venation pinnate, with the midrib conspicuous, and the tertiary venation reticulate or not; surfaces punctate; leathery or herbaceous; distinctive odour aromatic. Male and female flowers occurring on separate plants, or with all the flowers bisexual. Inflorescences terminal or axillary, consisting of dichasial cymes, umbels or solitary flowers. Bracts present. Pollination by insects. Flowers odourless, stalked. Floral disc present; nectaries absent. Perianth regular, of 2 or more whorls. Calyptra present or absent. Calyx segments fused, with (0–) 2–4 lobes, valvate in bud, herbaceous. Corolla segments free, with (0–) 1–14 petals, with no clear relationship to the calyx lobes, imbricate in bud, white or cream, without contrasting markings, membranous; claws absent; lobes ±entire. Fertile stamens 6–numerous, not clearly correlated with the calyx lobes, free of the corolla, free of the ovary and style, distinct from each other, all ±equal. Staminal filaments rarely present. Anthers dorsifixed, not versatile, opening outwards or sideways by longitudinal slits, 2-celled. Ovary superior, sessile or rarely stalked. Carpels 1–15, free. Style absent and the stigma terminal and ±sessile on the ovary. Ovules 1–22 per carpel, sessile; placentation apical or laminate. Fruit a fleshy indehiscent berry; the perianth on the maturing fruit deciduous or dry and persistent. Disseminule micro-surface ±smooth, magenta, purple, violet or black, glossy. Seeds 1–numerous per fruit. Aril absent. Cotyledons 2. Embryo straight.
(Note: this description has been generated from the coded data compiled for the key. Any errors in the key data will be reflected in the descriptions.)

A treatment of the family Winteraceae has not yet been published in the Flora of Australia. It will appear in Volume 2.

Australian genera of Winteraceae (as recognised for the Flora of Australia)


Tasmannia insipida (flowers)
Photo: M.Fagg © M.Fagg 

Tasmannia lanceolata (fruits)
Photo: M.Fagg © M.Fagg 

Tasmannia purpurascens (flowers)
Photo: M.Fagg © ANBG