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The classic New Zealand identification guide. Every home should have one. Buy it here.
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Cordyline: The Cabbage Trees
A Genera of trees or shrubs centred in the South West Pacific and India of about 15 species. There are 5 New Zealand species.
A soft stemmed tree, 8-14 m, unbranched when young. Leaves 30-100cm long, 3-6cm wide, not narrowed at the base, flowers small and white but found on long upright panicles. Fruit a small whitish berry that may have small black dots.
Corky bark of Cordyline australis
E kore e riro, he ti tamore no rarotonga
The cabbage tree is never carried away in a gale.
Referring to a person of courage is like a cabbage tree which can withstand a gale.
A large hangi was made to cook ti (Cordyline) root, possibly 8 ft in diamtere or more, and large stones were used for it, many people collecting to assist the task. The wood of the rewarewa was not allowed to be used for this purpose ( to heat the oven) because its wood, when decayed, is phosphorescent, like a glow worm, which latter is the offspring of Tanagaroa-piri-whare, the mischief maker, and if the wood was used for such a purpose some mishap would occur to future crops.
Maori agriculture Elsdon Best DM Bulletin No.9 1925.
Cordyline trunks about 15cm in diameter and up to 1m. long were cooked in a hangi for about 4 hours.. The cooking softened the inner pith and made a food not unlike the inner core of a modern cabbage.
Cordyline banksii , Forest Cabbage Tree, Ti Ngahere
A shrub or small tree reacing 6 metres. Leaves 1-2.5m. long 4-10cm broad that droop towards the tips and have a long channeled or fluted petiole. Flowers in large panicles. Berry 1cm white or purple. Northcape to Marlborough/Westland.
Cordyline pumilio , Ti rauriki, dwarf cabbage tree.
A small tree to 1m. Leaves 0.5-1m. long 4-8mm wide. Flowers in slender panicles 0.5-1m long. Berry 5mm diameter blue/white. Maori also used Ti rauriki roots as food. North Island distribution.
Cordyline kaspar .
Found on the Three Kings Islands at the tip of the North Island. The leaves are softer than the common Cabbage tree and the plant only grows to about 3m.
Cordyline indivisa , Toi, Mountain Cabbage tree
A tree reaching 8 metres that rarely branches. The leaves are 0.5-2m. long rubbery and glaucus greenin colour. White flowers in large drooping panicles. Berries blue.
A plant of the mountains and sub alpine areas. Te Aroha to Fiordland.
I recommend the following books on New Zealand native plants