Cordyline banksii


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.

Common Name(s)

ti ngahere, cabbage tree, ti rakau

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Cordyline banksii Hook.f.



Brief Description

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.

Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


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.

Structural Class

Monocotyledonous Trees and Shrubs


Cordyline diffusa Colenso


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.

Similar Taxa

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

Flower Colours



February - April

Propagation Technique

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.

Chromosome No.

2n = 38

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Fleshy berries are dispersed by frugivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).

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.


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

This page last updated on 15 Aug 2014