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  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Translate this page:

You can translate the content of this page by selecting a language in the select box.


Cordyline australis Cabbage Tree

Cordyline australis Cabbage Tree
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of cone
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 12-Jan It is in flower from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have 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.

Dracaena australis. Forst.f.

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].
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
Found In
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


Print Friendly and PDF
Expert comment
Botanical References
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?.
QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the website on their phone.
Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Cordyline australis  

Plant Uses

Edible Uses
Medicinal Uses
Other Plant uses
Woodland Gardening
Why Perennial Plants?
Top Edible Plants
Top Medicinal Plants
Garden Design

Twiter      Facebook


Content Help
Support Us
Old Database Search
About Us

Stay informed about PFAFs progress,
challenges and hopes by signing up for
our free email ePost. You will receive
a range of benefits including:
* Important announcements and news
* Exclusive content not on the website
* Updates on new information &
functionality of the website & database

We will not sell or share your email address.
You can unsubscribe at anytime.