The Cordyline australis is a monocotyledon endemic to New Zealand. The leaves are sword-shaped, 1.5 to 3ft long and 1 to 3in broad at the base, with numerous parallel veins. It has creamy, fragrant white flowers in late Spring and Summer followed by white-blue berries.
The subspecies (or variety) atropurpurea is especially notable for its reddish foilage, and several cultivars are available.
Because their high carbohydrate content can be made digestible by cooking, they were a valuable food source.
Because it tolerates cold weather better than many other tree-sized monocots, this plant is often planted by people wishing to give a tropical, exotic look to their yards or gardens. Fast-growing, and easy to cultivate.