tī ngahere, cabbage tree, tī rakau
Cordyline diffusa Colenso
Vascular – Native
Trees & Shrubs - Monocotyledons
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.
2n = 38
Current conservation status
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2017 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2012 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: By Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, John W. Barkla, Shannel P. Courtney, Paul D. Champion, Leon R. Perrie, Sarah M. Beadel, Kerry A. Ford, Ilse Breitwieser, Ines Schönberger, Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls, Peter B. Heenan and Kate Ladley.
2012 | Not Threatened
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Palm-like small forest tree with multiple erect branches that have tufts of tough long narrow pointed leaves that taper into a long leaf stalk that then again widens to enclose the stem. Leaves 1-2m long by 4-8cm wide, drooping, central vein conspicuous. Fruit small, whiteish.
Endemic. Common throughout the North Island, In the South widespread through the northern half, extending in the west to about Haast with occasional as unsubstantiated reports of it from the coastal portion of Fiordland.
Common in coastal, lowland, and lower montane forests. Occasionally extending into subalpine habitats in the South Island. Often found in shrublands where it is sympatric with, and often hybridises with Cordyline pumilio. Tolerant of a wide range of situations.
Shrub or small tree up to 4 m tall. Stems (1-)4(- many) 100-150 mm diam., arising from ground level, subequal, sparingly branched. Leaves numerous, 1-2 x 0.4-0.8 m, lanceolate (somewhat “paddle-shaped”) broad about middle and drooping from there, narrowed above base into a long, narrow, channeled petiole. Midrib flat, prominent for entire leaf length. Inflorescence a panicle. Peduncle stout, fleshy, 30-40 x 200 mm. Panicle 1-2 m, often smaller, broadly pyramidal, openly branched to third order, lower bracts green and leaf-like. Ultimate racemes 150-300 mm, 200 mm or more in diam., bearing, numerous, well spaced sessile flowers in axes. Flowers sweetly perfumed, perianths 10 mm long, white; tepals fused near base, rather open. Stamens same length as tepals. Stigma shortly trifid. Fruit 4-5 mm diam., globose, white, bluish-white, or blue. Seeds 2 mm diam., black, glossy, 2 sides flat the other convex.
Easily distinguished for other New Zealand Cordyline species by the smaller multi trunked shrub to small tree growth form, pale yellow-green, drooping leaved with have a prominent midrib, and by the very long, distinctive channeled petiole. The inflorescences though similar to C. australis are smaller, less branched and more compact, but the flowers are widely spaced.
November - January
February - April
Fleshy berries are dispersed by frugivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Easily grown from fresh seed. Can be grown from stem, shoot and trunk cuttings.
Common and not threatened. Does not seem so susceptible to Sudden Decline as C. australis has proved to be.
cordyline: From the Greek kordyle ‘club’
banksii: Named after Sir Joseph Banks, 1st Baronet, GCB, PRS (24 February 1743 - 19 June 1820) was an English naturalist, botanist and patron of the natural sciences.
Where To Buy
Not as commonly cultivated as C. australis but still offered by many garden centres, particularly a purple-coloured leaf variant. Easily grown and great for steep poorly drained slopes or planted with other smaller shrub species such as Muehlenbeckia astonii.
Fact sheet prepared by P.J. de Lange for NZPCN (1 June 2013)
References and further reading
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
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Cordyline banksii Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/cordyline-banksii/ (Date website was queried)