New Zealand Status: Endemic
Conservation Status: Not Threatened
Cordyline australis is a New Zealand evergreen tree that can grow to about 15m high. Its long bare branches end in large tufts of long, dark to light green, flax-like leaves that grow up to about 1m long. Dead leaves often form a skirt around branches. The pale to dark grey bark is cork-like, persistent, and deeply fissured. A huge fleshy taproot anchors the tree firmly into the ground.
Flowering occurs late spring to early summer as large dense panicles of small, white, sweetly scented flowers. The flowers are crowded along the ultimate branches of each panicle. Individual flowers are 5-6mm diameter, tepals are free almost to the base and reflexed, stamens are about the same length as the tepals. The stigmas are short and trifid. Fruit is bluish-white berries 5-7mm diameter that birds love to eat. The nectar attracts great numbers of insects to the flowers.
Cordyline australis occurs abundantly throughout New Zealand in open spaces, wetlands, scrubland, riparian zones, and forest margins at altitudes from coastal to montane.
© Geografpix Photography, Steve Reader