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Cabbage Tree (Cordyline australis)

Dracaena australis. Forst.f.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Cabbage Tree
Cordyline australis

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].

  • Medicinal Use

    None known

  • Edible Use

    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].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

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.
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].
New Zealand.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.