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Cordyline indivisa - (G.Forst.)Steud.

Common Name Cabbage Tree
Family Agavaceae
USDA hardiness 7-10
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Wetter mountains in North and South Islands[44]. Openings in wet forests[260].
Range New Zealand.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Cordyline indivisa Cabbage Tree

Cordyline indivisa Cabbage Tree


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Cordyline indivisa is an evergreen Tree growing to 8 m (26ft) by 2 m (6ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 8 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Dracaena indivisa.


Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Leaves  Root  Shoots  Stem
Edible Uses: Sweetener

Root - baked[173]. Pith of the trunk - dried and steamed until soft[173]. Sweet and starchy, it is used to make porridge or a sweet drink[173]. The root and stems are rich in fructose, the yields compare favourably with Sugar Beet (Beta vulgaris altissima)[153]. Edible shoots - a cabbage substitute[105, 128, 173]. The leaves are very fibrous even when young, we would not fancy eating them[K]. Edible fruit[2, 105, 177]. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter[200].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Basketry  Fibre

The leaves contain saponins, but not in commercial quantities[153]. The leaves contain a strong fibre, used for making paper, twine, cloth, baskets, thatching, rain capes etc[1, 46, 61, 128, 153]. The whole leaves would be used for some of these applications. This species makes very strong rain capes[153]. The midrib of the leaves provides a fine red-coloured strip for plaiting. It makes a very strong rope, lasting longer in water than Phormium tenax[153].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a good sandy loam rich in humus[1, 11]. Succeeds in full sun or light shade[188]. Likes a rich soil[11]. Plants grow well in coastal areas[260]. Plants are not very hardy in Britain, they tolerate temperatures down to about -3°c[260] though one report says that they can survive occasional lows down to about -10°c[11]. They succeed outdoors in the milder areas of Britain[11]. This species is more tender than C. australis[49, 59]. A very ornamental plant[1], it should be planted in its permanent position as soon as possible after the first winter[11]. Mice often kill young plants by eating out the pith of the stem[11].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Seed - pre-soak for about 10 minutes in warm water and sow in late winter to early spring in a warm greenhouse[78, 164]. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 25°c[164]. There is usually a good percentage germination[78]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant out in late spring after the last expected frosts and give the plants some protection in their first winter outdoors[K]. Stem cuttings - cut off the main stem just below the head and then saw off 5cm thick blocks of stem and place them 3cm deep in pure peat in a heated frame. Keep them moist until they are rooting well, then pot them up into individual pots. Plant out in late spring after the last expected frosts. Suckers. These are best removed in early spring and planted out in situ. Protect the division from wind and cold weather and do not allow the soil to become dry until the plant is established. Divisions can also be potted up and grown on until established, planting them out in the summer.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Native Plant Search

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Cordyline australisCabbage TreeTree15.0 7-10 SLMSNM303

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

salim howard   Thu Jan 25 2007

I am concerned that if planted in the ground, this plant or tree could become a pest or a noxious weed in zone 8 temperate climates. There is a dracaena indivisa that is about 4 years old planted in a garden where I work. In a zone 6 winter, the cold kills it back to the ground, but it lives under the ground only to grow wider and taller the next year. At present, it was about 10 feet tall and 6 feet around, choking out other plants. We tried to eradicate it with no luck; the root must go 6 feet down or more, and who knows how far outward the side roots go, and if they will sprout new stalks! I planted some of these in whiskey barrels as "accent plants" 2 years ago, suspecting that it may have been a mistake, based on what I had seen with the one in the ground. It WAS a mistake! Not only did they kill the other things in the whiskey barrels and take all the soil and root room, but they grew gargantuan roots, breaking the bottoms of the whiskey barrels. In order to dig them out, we had to remove all of the soil. I am not sure what the fibrous roots that we missed will do, but if they all have the capacity to grow into new plants, this could be a huge problem! I strongly suggest more research into this plant! Many people in the pacific Northwest are now into "exotic" plants, many coming from New Zealand and other tropical and sub tropical places in the world and California. Here, these plants are becoming nuisances and invasives (such as the running bamboos, pampas grass, sumac trees and honey locusts for instance, and sea buckthorn, russian olive, etc. some of the pollens from the trees are such high allergens that whole populations are getting sick from them.) I am concerned that introducing "exotics", formerly relegated to conservatories and houses, is going to be more and more of a problem as global warming changes our ecosystems. The exotics look out of place here (much as we would like to pretend that we northwesters live in the sunny warm tropics), and they are pushing out the native plants. I'd like to find out more about if anyone else has concern about exotic plants in temperate areas, and what kind of research is being done as to their invasiveness! Thanks.

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future   Mon Jan 29 2007

Whilst I share the concerns of Salim Howard about certain exotic plants becoming noxious weeds, I have yet to see any reports of this species doing so. Indeed, I am quite surprised by the suggestion that this plant could become invasive. This species has been grown in Cornwall, England (a zone 8 area) for over 150 years and has never become a nuisance in that time. Indeed, it has been a harder job keeping it alive when the winters are colder than usual. I would be very interested to hear from anyone who might have had any problems with this plant, to see if there is any potential for it to become invasive.

geoff yates   Fri Apr 6 2007

the leaves on the end of my cordyline have split,is this a problem

jacquelin shilling   Wed May 16 2007

I am a bit of a novice as I have just moved into a house with a Cordyline Indivisa planted in a large pot in the garden. I have noticed that the roots are coming out of the soil and have bought it a bigger pot. I have been advised about what soil to pot it in but would like some advice on care. The leaves seem to be doing okay but there are some speckles on some of them - is there anything I can be putting on the leaves to help? I live in Birmingham U.K. Any advice would be gratefully received. Thank you.

Andy Queen.   Fri Jun 13 2008

My one is planted out here in Bangor NI. It has the lower leaves going yellow. Any Idea what is causing it? The are some great specimens down the road at Mount Stewart that look great. Regards Andy.

John Reynolds   Thu Jun 26 2008

I have recently planted a cordyline indivisa which was in flower when I bought it. The seeds are now forming and I have noticed that below the flower the stem of the plant has three new groups of leaves growing outward from itself as if the trunk/stem is splitting into three separate trunks/stems. Is this normal? Could it be because the flower stem is in the way of the growth of the main stem? I would appreciate any advice on this thanks.

Gee Soy   Thu Sep 18 2008

Dear John Reynolds,i have the exact same problem with my cordyline that i got while it was flowering it is now seeding which cant be good for it. did you get any replies and should i cut off the seeding stem to give the plant back its energy??? John or anyone??? please Email me on [email protected] thank Ps, i have 9 cordylines now! love em!!

martin   Thu Sep 25 2008

It is fine for cordyline indivisa to develop more than one trunk. There is a nice specimen in Glendurgan Gardens in Cornwall. Branching gives the cordyline a nice shape rather than just looking like a telegraph pole.

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