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Cordyline australis - (G.Forst.)Hook.f.

Common Name Cabbage Tree
Family Agavaceae
USDA hardiness 7-10
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Forest margins and open places. Abundant near swamps. North, South and Stewart Islands[44].
Range New Zealand.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Cordyline australis Cabbage Tree


Cordyline australis Cabbage Tree
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Summary


Physical Characteristics

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Cordyline australis is an evergreen Tree growing to 15 m (49ft) by 5 m (16ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 8 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from August to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Synonyms

Dracaena australis. Forst.f.

Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root;  Stem.
Edible Uses: Sweetener.

Root - baked[105, 153, 173, 177]. It can also be brewed into an intoxicating drink[183]. 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].

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

Other Uses

Fibre;  Paper.

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. When used for making paper, the leaves are harvested in summer, they are scraped to remove the outer skin and are then soaked in water for 24 hours prior to cooking[189].

Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Fiber;  Management: Standard;  Minor Global Crop.

Prefers a good sandy loam rich in humus[1]. Succeeds in full sun or light shade[188]. A very wind hardy plant, tolerating maritime exposure[49, 166]. A very ornamental plant[1], it is not very cold-hardy, tolerating short-lived lows down to about -10°c[260]. It only succeeds outdoors in the milder areas of Britain[1, 11, 59]. It grows very well in Cornwall where it often self-sows[1, 11, 59]. A form with purplish leaves is hardier than the type and succeeds outdoors in Gloucestershire[11]. The flowers have a delicious sweet scent that pervades the air to a considerable distance[245]. Mice often kill young plants by eating out the pith of the stem[11].

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Propagation

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

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

 

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Expert comment

Author

(G.Forst.)Hook.f.

Botanical References

1144200

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Jack Adams   Sun Jun 26 01:30:39 2005

I have had some success growing these plants from seeds, but have lost quite a lot with some form of root rot. The plants rots at the base and dies. Can you also explain in more detail how I can propogate from stem cuttings. Exactly which leaves do I take off, please

Sandra Mayne   Fri Aug 24 2007

My sister has 4 cordylines..2 x green leaf and 2 x purpleish leaf. We would like to know if she re-pots them, would it harm the young plants if she puts them in very large pots to avoid re-potting again at a later date. We are finding that their roots very quickly outgrow a pot.

david owellen   Sat May 3 2008

my cordyline has developed yellow spots and the ends of the leaves are splitting what will cause this please

Mary McArdle   Sat Jun 28 2008

are the flower heads meant to be removed after flowering or will this damage the plant?

gracy dias   Wed Aug 27 2008

my friend had cordyline australis which is about 7 feet tall, which she wanted to get reed so, i brought and planted in my garden. while taking the plant from the ground two main roots which were deep in the ground broke off. while the other roots round the base of the tree holding the soil are there, will the tree still grow?.

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