Tag Archives: Cabbage trees

New Zealand Christmas candles…..or not?

This season has seen a profusion of flowering amongst our native trees and plants. The cabbage trees were luxuriant, the kowhais dripped their gold, the Pohutukawas are prolific and the various flaxes are producing bounteous nectar and pollen.

One variety of flax that is found in several gardens near my home has glowed with “ Christmassy” reds and oranges. The flowers remind me of traditional Christmas candles that appeared on Christmas cards when I was a child and a Northern Hemisphere Christmas was the predominant visual theme. I always wondered how candles could be lit and be safe on a tree indoors….
It is no wonder that the Tuis, who adore and feast on flax flower nectar are appearing at the sugar water feeder with pollen coating their heads when you look at this macro photo of a flax flower. The shape of each part of the flower is the perfect curve for the nectar feeding birds beaks.

Flax plant

Flax plant


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It is heavy with pollen and only one of a myriad of such flowers on each stalk.
Christmas candles…… perhaps not but a Christmas feast for the birds.

Of Cabbages……?

No, not a post about Cabbages, nor a post about what the Walrus said “of cabbages and kings”, but a post about our Cabbage Trees. Ti Kouka in Maori, Cordyline Australis in Latin, a tree so common in New Zealand that it is easily taken for granted and overlooked.

We have at least two of these trees in our garden now and as I have sat sniffling and snuffling over the past four days I have noticed flower heads emerging from our trees.

I learnt from Ruth here that Cabbage Tree flowers have a beautiful scent and on that calm afternoon on Thursday I could just smell a delicate perfume when I was out near the larger of the two trees.
Keruru, New Zealand’s native wood pigeon love the flowers and seeds of these trees so I am pleased to extend our bird resort facilities further with the sight of an abundant flowering about to happen.

I was further surprised to peer over the supermarket car park wall and spot this stunning sight. It is rare to look down into the head of a cabbage tree as they stand very tall, very quickly but here was a gem to cheer me on.
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There is quite a line-up of cabbage trees below this wall and they offered me various photos of flower heads emerging and flowers blooming.
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Unfortunately any scent was being blown away in the spring winds. Like many of our native trees this flowering season is looking to be a boomer.