The cabbage tree (Cordyline australis) is among the most distinctive trees in the New Zealand landscape, especially on farms. They grow all over the country, but prefer wet, open areas like swamps. This image shows flowers (earlier than I’d expected) on one of the trees planted outside the Central Library in Wellington’s Civic Centre.
Cabbage trees – tī kōuka in te reo Māori – have lovely scented flowers in early summer, which turn into bluish-white berries that birds love to eat. Growing 12 to 20 metres high, cabbage trees have long narrow leaves that may be up to a metre long. As the plant gets old, the stems may die but new shoots grow from any part of the trunk. The bark is thick and tough like cork, and a huge fleshy taproot anchors the tree firmly into the ground. (Adapted from an article on the website of the New Zealand Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai.)