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Cordylines - Palm Lilies

Betty Rymer

The growth of these plants is always tall and slender, so they are good for planting among other plants, under trees and along narrow shady beds, as they love semi shade. I plant them in my rainforest area, the birds spread the seed and baby cordy lines appear.

Cordyline stricta Cordyline petiolaris   
Flowers of Cordyline stricta (left) and Cordyline petiolaris fruit (right). Photos: Brian Walters; Peter Sparshott   

There are five species of Cordyline native to Australia. Narrow leaf palm lily (Cordyline stricta) has mauve flowers and black berries. All the other native cordylines have white or mauve flowers and red berries. They grow in rainforests of north-eastern New South Wales and Queensland but many will grow in Sydney gardens and other temperate areas in semi shade and enough water in dry spells.

If the plants get too tall they can be cut down and will reshoot.

Propagation is from cutting or seed, which may take up to 2 months to germinate.

The International Cordyline Society, based in Kenmore, Brisbane, is a wonderfully colourful and pictorial site and well worth a visit.

From 'Calgaroo', the newsletter of the Parramatta and Hills Group of the Australian Plants Society, June 2006.

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Australian Plants online - 2006
Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants