Cordyline pumilio


Cordyline: From the Greek kordyle 'club'
pumilio: Small, dwarf

Common Name(s)

dwarf cabbage tree, ti koraha, ti rauriki

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Cordyline pumilio Hook.f.



Brief Description

Small shrub consisting of a tuft of long very narrow leaves and often without a visible trunk. Easiest to identify by the long sparse sprays of small white or pink flowers developing into a blueish fruit. Leaves to 1m long x 1-2cm at widest, tapering into a grooved leaf stalk.

Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Monocotyledonous Trees and Shrubs




Endemic. North Island from Te Paki (North Cape) to Kawhia Harbour in the west and Bay of Plenty in the East.


Coastal to montane. Often in gumland and other shrubland. Common in kauri (Agathis australis) forest, especially along ridgelines and around slip scars.


Plant forming leafy tufts up to 1 m tall, trunk usually absent, rarely sparingly developed, occasionally reaching up to 2 m tall. Plants often flowering while short stem is leafy to ground; in older plants bare part of stem up to 0.1 × 0.15 mm and usually sprawling, rarely stiffly erect. Leaves 0.30–0.60–1.00(-1.30) × 0.01–0.02 m, yellow-green to green (sometimes red-spotted) ± narrowed above base into channelled petiole; midrib prominent abaxially, at least proximally; margin slightly recurved. Inflorescence an openly, sparingly branched panicle up 0.1 × 0.8 m, axes slender branched to second order;bracts often small and inconspicuous; ultimate racemes 50–300 mm long, axis clearly visible between flowers. Peduncle to 100 × 3–4 mm. Flowers small, widely spaced; pedicels 3-5(-10) mm long, Perianth c.4–5 mm long, whitish, or pink externally; tepals narrow, recurved, 3-nerved. Stigma shortly trifid. Fruit c.4–5 mm diameter, globose, bluish or flecked with blue. Seeds c.2.0–2.5 mm. long, shining, two sides flat and one convex. Description adapted from Moore & Edgar (1970).

Similar Taxa

Easily distinguished from all other Cordyline in New Zealand by its usually "stemless" growth habit (the stems are actually buried beneath the soil). More frequently confused with Dianella or Libertia from which it is easily distinguished by the, yellow-green, prominently ribbed leaves and much larger, lax paniculate inflorescences, and small, globular bluish to white flecked fruits.


October - January

Flower Colours

Red / Pink,White


March - May

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed and stem cuttings. Does well in full sun in a well drained soil. It an excellent plant for a raised garden or for pot culture on for example a deck. A purple-leaved form of Corydline pumilio is now very popular in cultivation.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 38

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Fleshy berries are dispersed by frugivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).


Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 14 February 2011. Description adapted from Moore & Edgar (1970).

References and further reading

Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand Vol. II. Wellington, Government Printer. 

Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309

This page last updated on 2 Jul 2014