Tī kōuka cabbage tree

Cordyline australis

Evergreen, endemic to New Zealand.

Tī kōuka are a distinctive feature of New Zealand flood plains and swamps. They are found throughout the country, up to 1000m altitude.

Tap roots and the core of the trunk were were steam-cooked by Māori in hangi ovens. The growing tips or leaf hearts were eaten as vegetables – cooked or raw.

The leaves can be woven to make baskets, string, rain capes, sandals, and for use in thatching roofs.

Korimako (bellbirds) and kererū, (New Zealand pigeon) feast on the small fruits. Geckos and native bees forage in the flowers.

The trunk of the cabbage tree is so resistant to fire that early settlers used them to make chimneys.