Cordyline stricta

Narrow-leaved Palm-lily

Family: Asparagaceae

An erect, often narrow, herbaceous lily-perennial (monocot), to potentially 5 metres tall, forming suckering clumps of separate stems which grow off a rhizome, to about 1 metre wide.

It has a mostly coastal and coastal-hinterland distribution in NSW, north from near Bilpin, NSW, extensing nothwards mainly along the north coast subdivision, as far west as south-east of Armidale, Dorrigo and Gibraltar Range National Park and south-east of Tenterfield. It extends into Queensland as far north as near Caboolture and as far west as south-west of Rathdowney.

It can naturalise occassionally in areas, from gardens, often close to creeklines.

It is naturally found in sub-tropical and warm temperate rainforest, often near rivers and streams, on enriched soils.

Cordyline spp. have simple leaves, which are clustered along stems, often in a spiral to almost whorled arrangement. In this species, leaves are deep, glossy green, linear (‘strappy’) up to 50 cm long by about 2.5 cm wide with a sheathing base. They emerge off the central stem in tufts in a 360° radius.

Coryline spp. have flowers typical of many monocots with 6 tepals (6 sepals and petals which cannot be differentiated), blue to mauve in colour or sometimes white, with 6 stamens and 1 carpel (bisexual) – arranged in terminal to lateral panicles. In this species, panicles are to 40 cm long by about 15 cm wide, on a stalk (scape) to 30 cm long, emerging from the terminal shoots, consisting of many flowers, each flower about 1.5 cm across, mauve to blue-purple in colour (sometimes white), produced mainly in winter and spring.

Cordyline spp. produce a berry. In this species, the fruits are about 15 mm in diameter, ripening to black with black seeds.

In the garden

This plant grows very easily in most situations and is reported to grow quickly with flowers quickly produced.

It is a tall background or narrow screening plant especially in a shaded area. It is adaptable in a range of climates. However, it prefers moist soils in semi shade. It is surprisingly tolerant of extended dry conditions once established. They are a little frost tender.

When small, it makes an excellent container plant and can be kept indoors for long periods. The plant can be pruned to any height and will reshoot readily.

It can be a food source for butterflies. It does not seem to be affected by pests or diseases to any significant extent.


Propagation can be carried out from seed which germinates readily. Division of larger plants is also a useful method of propagation and stem cuttings also strike readily.

Other information

This species is unlikely to be affected by fire in its natural environment. Fire is likely very detrimental. Regeneration from seed bank may be possible after one fire or suckering from rhizomes.

Cordyline is a genus of about 20-25 species, found in Asia, Australia, New Zealand as well as Africa and South America. Australia has 9 species (8 endemic) – found in New South Wales and Queensland. One species is a weed from New Zealand – *C. australis. NSW currently has 6 species.

Cordyline – from Greek kordyli (kορδύλη), meaning a “club” or “cudgel”, referring to the club-like shape of the stems and rhizomes of some species.

stricta – from Latin strictus meaning “rigid” – referring to the appearance of the plant (having an erect and upright habit of growth).

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Coryline stricta profile page          https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Cordyline~stricta

Australian National Herbarium – Coryline stricta profile page

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

By Jeff Howes and Dan Clarke.