Cordylines are commonly known as cabbage trees in this country. Some wit branded them as Torbay Palms for the UK market and we know that most of them are ours, native to New Zealand. Not this one, however. The blue flowers and the unchewed foliage are a hint – C. stricta belongs across the Tasman, native to coastal New South Wales through to southern Queensland. It is a native moth – Epiphryne verriculata – that chews our cordylines but it does not fancy the foreign varieties so C. stricta doesn’t get the moth eaten look.
It is an excellent garden plant, being tolerant of a wide range of conditions and relatively hardy. It will take coastal winds, even dry conditions, grows in sun or shade and is okay with light to moderate frosts. We have never had it reach much over 3m tall and it clumps so if it is getting unwieldy, it is easy to chop out the longest stems. The leaves are a little fleshier than the stringiness of our native varieties so it is more amenable with the lawnmower. Then there are the lovely blue flowers in summer. But it doesn’t have everything – there is no scent and that is one of the hallmarks of our native ones.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.