Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Cordyline cannifolia R.Br.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flower. © Barry Jago
Flowers. © G. Sankowsky
Fruits and transverse section. © W. T. Cooper
Leaves and fruit. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, hypogeal germination. © CSIRO

Brown, R. (1810) Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae : 280. Type: Queensland, Shoalwater Bay, Aug. 1802, R. Brown; holo: BM?; iso: K, MEL. Fide Pedley (1986).

Common name



Usually flowers and fruits as a shrub, often single-stemmed and up to 5 m tall.


Leaf blades about 18-50 x 2.5-12 cm, slightly glaucous on the underside when fresh. Lateral veins more obvious on the underside of the leaf blade. Petiole about 5-20 cm long, grooved on the upper surface. Twigs or stems marked by conspicuous scars where the leaves were attached.


Inflorescence to 25 cm long, pedicels about 1-2 mm long with 3 or 4 bracts at the base. Sepals and petals about 6-8 mm long, minutely fimbriate at the tips. Anthers yellow, filaments white, glabrous. Pollen yellow. Ovary and style glabrous.


Fruit about 1 cm diam. Testa black and shiny. Embryo small, narrowly cylindrical and slightly curved.


First pair of leaves about 8 x 2-3 mm, longitudinally veined, apices apiculate, petioles about 13 mm long, bases sheathing the stem. At the tenth leaf stage: leaves longitudinally veined, apices aristate. Petioles longitudinally veined and sheathing the stem. Petiole margins translucent. Tap root and other roots white. Seed germination time 21 to 91 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to Australia, occurs in NT, CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards to coastal central Queensland. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 1200 m. Grows in rain forest and wet sclerophyll forest.

Cordyline terminalis var. cannifolia (R.Br.) Baker, Journal of the Linnean Society, Botany 14 : 541(1875). Sansevieria cannifolia (R.Br.) Spreng., Systema Vegetabilium 2 : 93(1825).
RFK Code
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