Asparagaceae (asparagus family) Cordyline

Cordyline australis palm lily

New Zealand

This arborescent monocot is decorated with scented white flowers in May and June and later has small pale white berries containing black seeds. Fiber from the leaves was used by the Maoris for twine, nets, and woven goods. There are examples are in the Inner Quad, in the New Guinea Garden (planted in 1994), and at 553 Mayfield Avenue. Cordyline appeas as Dracaena on some early campus plant lists. Campus had years ago lost to freezing events its numerous exotic, mature Draecena draco trees, which originally grew in the Stanford’s glass house before being planted out on the new university’s grounds by Thomas Douglas. The longest-lived survivor held out in the Inner Quad until the late 1930s.

Superficially similar Spanish bayonet, Yucca aloifolia, grow near palm lilies (aka cabbage trees) in the New Guinea Sculpture Garden. Examination reveals differences in bark and leaves and if in flower, the many small papery flowers of the palm lily are distinct from the larger waxy flowers of Spanish bayonet and other yuccas.

Illustrations: inner quad | bloom 28 Oct 2003.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. John Rawlings added a few locations and notes.