This well known species probably originated somewhere in the
vicinity of New Guinea but was long ago spread through the Pacific
by Melanesians and Polynesians, who valued its starchy rhizomes as
It grows to at least 10 ft (3 m) high, forming quite a strong,
branched trunk, but is more often seen as a 3Ð6 ft (1-1.8 m) shrub
in gardens or as a house plant.
The thin, lance-shaped leaves are up to 30 in (75 cm) long and 6 in
(15 cm) wide, clustered at the top of the stem.
The 12 in (30 cm) panicles of small, scented, white to dull mauve
flowers are borne in summer and may be followed by crowded red
The many colored and variegated foliage forms are favorite
landscaping plants in the tropics; they vary also in leaf size and
shape. Imperialis has dark green leaves streaked with pink and
Cultivation: Cordylines do well in rich, well-drained soil.
The narrower-leafed New Zealand species are the most sun hardy, and
Cordyline australis tolerates salt spray near the ocean; the species
with broader, thinner leaves like a sheltered position in part
shade, though will tolerate full sun if humidity is high.
Most can be kept in pots or tubs for many years as indoor or patio
Easily propagated from seed or stem cuttings.