Cordyline: From the Greek kordyle 'club'
obtecta: Covered over; protected
Three Kings cabbage tree
Cordyline obtecta (Graham) Baker
Vascular - Native
Cordyline kaspar W.R.B.Oliv. (New Zealand only). C. baueri Hook.f. nom. superfl. (Norfolk Island only)
Indigenous. New Zealand: Three Kings Islands (North East Island, Manawa Tawhi (Great Island), South West Island and West Island), North Island (North Cape and Murimotu Island), Poor Knights Islands (Aorangi and Tawhiti Rahi). Also present on Norfolk Island, which is the type Locality for Cordyline obtecta.
Stout, widely branched tree to 6 m tall; trunk solitary or multi-trunked from base. Trunks up 0.45 m dbh; bark copious, firm, corky, grey-brown. Leaves concolorous, yellow-green, green to glaucous-green,often dropping in upper half to one third; lamina o.60–0.65-1.0 × 0.055–0.07(-0.10) mm, broadly, lanceolate to ± oblanceolate, widest above middle; narrowed above base into short, hardly channelled petiole of half lamina-width or less; lamina similar on both surfaces, widest above middle; midrib obscure adaxially, more prominent abaxially, widened towards base, paler than rest of lamina; nerves fine, subequal, ± parallel but meeting midrib at appreciable angle. Inflorescence a broad densely flowered panicle 0.8-1.0(-1.2) m long, branched to second or third order, branches well spaced, lower bracts foliaceous, green entire or bilobed; ultimate racemes c. 100–200(-300) mm long, c.20 mm diameter (including flowers); axes visible between flowers. Peduncle very stout 10-30 mm diameter. Flowers white, strongly and very sweetly scented; perianth c.5–6 mm long, tube c.2 mm long; tepals patent. Stamens about the same length as tepals; filaments long-connate or not, if connate then the free portion as broad as the anther and not much longer. Stigma shortly trifid. Fruit c.4 mm diameter, globose, white. Seeds c.3.5 mm diameter, glossy, deeply notched on one side. Description adapted from Moore & Edgar (1970).
September - December
Main Flower Colour
March - June
Easily grown from fresh seed, emergent shoot, stem and even trunk cuttings. Reasonably hardy, certainly less prone to Cabbage Tree Decline. Cordyline obtecta will tolerate most soils and moisture regimes but dislikes long periods of drought and is frost sensitive. Excellent in pots and tubs.
Not Threatened in New Zealand though it is very localised and so possibly at some risk on Norfolk Island. In New Zealand Cordyline obtecta is very common on the main islands of the Three Kings which are protected as Nature Reserves. It is less common south of there but still rather widespread especially on remote Murimotu and the Poor Knights Islands (another Nature Reserve).
2n = 38
Where To Buy
Can be purchased from Oratia Native Plant Nurseries (email@example.com).
Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand Vol. II. Wellington, Government Printer.
Fact Sheet Prepared for NZPCN by: P.J. de Lange 14 February 2011. Description adapted from Moore & Edgar (1970).
This page last updated on 24 Mar 2012