Cabbage tree/ti kouka: Native plants

Cabbage tree/ti kouka: Native plants

Fast information

  • The trunk of the cabbage tree is so fire-resistant that early European settlers used it to make chimneys for his or her huts. Conveniently, too, the leaves made superb kindling. In addition they brewed beer from the foundation.
  • Cabbage bushes are probably the most broadly cultivated New Zealand natives and are very fashionable in Europe, Britain and the U.S. Within the U.Ok. they’re often known as Torquay palm.
  • Cabbage bushes are good colonising species, rising fortunately on naked floor or uncovered locations. 
  • Their sturdy root system helps cease soil erosion on steep slopes and since they tolerate moist soil, they’re a helpful species for planting alongside stream banks.
  • Māori used cabbage bushes as a meals, fibre and medication. The basis, stem and prime are all edible, a great supply of starch and sugar. The fibre is separated by lengthy cooking or by breaking apart earlier than cooking. 
  • The leaves had been woven into baskets, sandals, rope, rain capes and different objects and had been additionally made into tea to remedy diarrhoea and dysentery.
  • Cabbage bushes had been additionally planted to mark trails, boundaries, urupā (cemeteries) and births, since they’re usually long-lived.

The place is it discovered?

The cabbage tree/tī kōuka is frequent all through farmland, open locations, wetlands and scrubland of the North and South Islands, however are uncommon on Stewart Island.

Cabbage tree/tī kōuka grows as much as 1000 metres above sea stage in something from moist swampy floor to dry windy hill slopes. The species prefers full daylight, so it is not uncommon on farms and usually unusual in tracts of steady forest (though it is not uncommon on forest margins).

Different species

Apart from tī kōuka, there are 4 different species present in New Zealand. These are:

  • Cordyline obtecta – which in New Zealand is barely identified from the Three Kings, Murimotu and Poor Knights Island teams in addition to a small space of North Cape. Till lately this species was often known as C. kaspar however current taxonomic opinion is that it’s the similar species as the sooner named Norfolk Island C. obtecta.

  • C. indivisa – the mountain cabbage tree or tōi, which is thought from Nice Barrier Island south to Stewart Island. This can be a spectacular forest to excessive montane dwelling species with slightly broad, bluegrey leaves.

  • C. banksii – the forest cabbage tree or tī ngahere. Discovered all through the North Island and South Island to north Cantebury within the east and Haast within the west (with unconfirmed stories of it alongside the northern coastal portion of Fiordland). This species is typical of coastal to lowland forest however can lengthen into montane forest the place it often types hybrids with C. indivisa. It is usually price noting that C. banksii readily hybridises with C. australis and C. pumilio.

  • C. pumilio – the so referred to as stemless cabbage tree/tī rauriki, often lacks a trunk and is usually present in kauri forest or related gum land scrub. When it’s not in flower it’s usually mistaken for blueberry (Dianella nigra). C. pumilio readily hybridises with C. banksii forming vegetation often known as C. x matthewsii.

Do you know?

In 1987, a thriller illness began to kill off cabbage bushes within the North Island. It was not identified what brought about the illness, which was referred to as ‘sudden decline’, and hypotheses for its trigger included tree ageing, fungi, viruses, and environmental components resembling enhanced UV.

After practically 5 years of labor, scientists discovered the trigger was a parasitic organism referred to as a phytoplasma, which they assume could be unfold from tree to tree by a tiny sap-sucking insect, the launched ardour vine hopper. The phytoplasma is native to New Zealand flax, and early final century brought about huge epidemics of yellow leaf illness in flax, destroying the as soon as intensive flax swamps of Manawatu and contributing to the eventual collapse of the as soon as flourishing flax fibre business.


Though widespread and plentiful, cabbage tree populations have been decimated in some elements of New Zealand on account of sudden decline. In some areas, significantly within the north, no massive bushes are left. Crops stricken with this sickness immediately and quickly wilt, with leaves falling off nonetheless inexperienced. Contaminated bushes often die inside three to 12 months. The excellent news is that though sudden decline usually impacts cabbage bushes in farmland and open areas, bushes in pure forest patches proceed to do nicely.

You possibly can assist

There’s nonetheless no remedy for sudden decline, so we have to maintain planting extra younger cabbage bushes to switch the dying populations. Planting cabbage bushes in gardens and land restoration tasks will play an vital function in sustaining cabbage bushes in New Zealand.

Cabbage bushes on farmland could also be survivors of forest clearance within the nineteenth century (they’re very tough to kill), they usually could also be a dying breed until they’re fenced off from grazing inventory. Fencing will even enable pure regeneration to happen.

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