What is the plant
Cordyline banksii, the Forest Cabbage Tree, is a graceful long-leaved Cordyline from the North Island and the north-western parts of the South Island of New Zealand. It grows in coastal and lowland scrub, rocky banks, dense bush and bush margins, hillsides with scrubby secondary growth as well as on higher forested slopes to an elevation of about 1000m. Despite this wide variety of habitats it is not that often seen in the wild and although not rare, a chance encounter with a Cordyline banksii while tramping through the New Zealand bush is always a joy. It is however, relatively rare in cultivation and even in New Zealand is not especially well-known compared to the much more familiar Cordyline australis. Its leaves are quite different from Cordyline australis being longer and broader in the middle section and tapering at both ends. They have a distinctive midrib and are held in a graceful arching manner that gives them a less spiky and more tropical look. Although the leaf span is longer - giving younger plants a wider spread - it is overall a smaller and somewhat more delicate plant, the trunks slender and considerably less robust than the often monumental Cordyline australis and more inclined to have multiple stems although single stems are also typical.
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