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The Winteraceae are a mostly southern-hemisphere family associated with the Antarctic flora, found in tropical to temperate climate regions of Malesia, Oceania, eastern Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar and the Neotropic. Many members of the family are fragrant, and are used to produce essential oils.
Most of the genera are concentrated in Australasia and Malesia. Drimys is found in the Neotropic ecozone, from southern Mexico to the subarctic forests of southern South America. Takhtajania includes a single species, T. perrieri, endemic to Madagascar.The family disappeared from the African fossil record roughly 24 million years ago. The Winteraceae are characteristic of the Antarctic flora, which has its origins in the southern portion of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana, and is generally found in humid temperate and subtropical regions of the southern hemisphere, and at higher elevations in the humid tropics.
Winter's Bark (Drimys winteri), a slender tree native to the Magellanic and Valdivian temperate rain forests of Chile and Argentina, is grown as a garden plant for its handsome and fragrant mahogany-red bark and bright-green leaves, and its clusters of creamy white jasmine-scented flowers. Tasmannia lanceolata, known as Tasmanian pepper, is grown as an ornamental shrub, and is increasingly being used as a condiment.
Feild, Taylor S., Brodribb, Tim, Holbrook, N. Michele. (2002). Hardly a Relict: Freezing and the Evolution of Vesselless Wood in Winteraceae. Evolution 2002 56: 464-478.
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