The typification and tortuous nomenclature of three Tasmanian conifers is discussed. They are currently known as Microcachrys tetragona (Hook.) Hook. f., Microstrobos niphophilus J. Garden & L.A.S. Johnson (both Podocarpaceae) and Diselma archeri Hook. f. (Cupressaceae). The similarities between these plants, all of which are dioecious, microphyllous shrubs with minute cones and which often grow together, have resulted in their original descriptions being confused and each based on two or more elements belonging to different taxa. A chronological account of the chaotic and confusing literature relevant to this problem is presented together with a revised nomenclature. Much confusion in recent literature has been caused by authors misinterpreting what J.D. Hooker was referring to when he used the pronoun 'it' in a commentary in 1857. The most serious conclusion is that Pherosphaera hookeriana W. Archer bis is the correct name for "Microstrobos niphophilus J. Garden & L.A.S. Johnson", a binary designation that has been in use for 50 years but which is shown still not to be a validly published name. As a consequence of this, the other (Australian) species of Microstrobos, M. fitzgeraldii (F. Muell.) J. Garden & L.A.S. Johnson, must also be transferred back to Pherosphaera. Lectotypes are designated for Microcachrys tetragona and Pherosphaera hookeriana; an earlier lectotypification of the latter name is here rejected since the specimen chosen was not part of the original material. Possibilities of conserving names involved are discussed.
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