Story: Shrubs and small trees of the forest

Tī kōuka – New Zealand cabbage tree

Tī kōuka – New Zealand cabbage tree

Cabbage trees (Cordyline australis) are giant tree lilies belonging to the plant family Laxmanniaceae. Standing in farm paddocks, surrounded by fields of pasture, they are one of the most familiar sights of the New Zealand countryside. Such isolated trees are the first- or second-generation survivors of former forest cover. Originally cabbage trees grew in swamp forest, along river terraces, and on damp hillsides. They have been widely planted throughout New Zealand and overseas, and many varieties have been cultivated.

Cabbage trees grow to 20 metres in height and develop a massive trunk up to 1 metre in diameter. This branches after each flowering and over time develops a wide crown of long tufted leaves. Each spring it produces a large spray of sweet-smelling flowers.

About this item

Private collection
Photograph by Jeremy Rolfe

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How to cite this page:

Joanna Orwin, 'Shrubs and small trees of the forest - Cabbage trees', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/13829/ti-kouka-new-zealand-cabbage-tree (accessed 16 December 2017)

Story by Joanna Orwin, published 24 Sep 2007, updated 1 Jul 2015