Cabbage trees, ti kouka, Torquay or Devon palms, and quite likely other names describe these magnificent shrubby trees. For awhile I've meant to blog about their diverse appearance and distribution - whether that's appearing through falling snow flakes in the grounds of the Topkapa Palace in Istanbul or vying for attention with Barbara Hepworth's sculpture in her garden in St Ives. I have to say the most battered specimens I've ever come across are along the sea front at Torquay in England. Compare those wind-dwarfed, scrag ends with the single tree above... and below.
This one is in Ashley on Boundary Rd. Possibly it is an early Maori way marker as it is close to a historic dwelling site, but it could just as easily be a lucky escapee from grazing, and road-side mowing since it is right at the edge of a stream. It is certainly old, with many trunks surrounding a cavity where the original single trunk would have once grown.
Taken on the same day at the Tuahiwi Marae, is this superb single-trunked specimen. Just as Chris thought the may flower around his garden in Sefton was more than last year, I think that the cabbage tree flowers are more prolific than they have been for awhile. The berries on the hawthorn and the cabbage trees will be heavy next autumn - a mast season even. The heavy flowering carries the strong lily perfume well beyond the trees, aggravating hay fever for unfortunate sufferers.
I took this photo in the village about a week ago; it's a garden planting making a stunning display along the roadside.
Cabbage tree, ti kouka, Torquay palm, Devon palm Cordyline australis