by HELGE Art Gallery
HELGE Art Gallery
Photograph - Photography
Beautiful cabbage trees on the walk to Cathedral Cove (NZ).
The cabbage tree is one of 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.
Growing 12 to 20 metres high, cabbage trees (Cordyline australis) have long narrow leaves that may be up to a metre long. It has lovely scented flowers in early summer, which turn into bluish-white berries that birds love to eat.
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.
Cabbage trees are one of the most widely cultivated New Zealand natives and are very popular in Europe, Britain and the U.S. In the U.K. they are known as Torquay palm.
Cabbage trees are good colonising species, growing happily on bare ground or exposed places.
Their strong root system helps stop soil erosion on steep slopes and because they tolerate wet soil, they are a useful species for planting along stream banks.
Māori used cabbage trees as a food, fibre and medicine. The root, stem and top are all edible, a good source of starch and sugar. The fibre is separated by long cooking or by breaking up before cooking.
The leaves were woven into baskets, sandals, rope, rain capes and other items and were also made into tea to cure diarrhoea and dysentery.
Cabbage trees were also planted to mark trails, boundaries, urupā (cemeteries) and births, since they are generally long-lived.
March 28th, 2018
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