Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Cordyline indivisa

Cordyline indivisa Steud.
Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, No.9096, Volume 151, 1926.

Sorting Cordylines

The botanists view:

Cordyline australis (G. Forst.) Endl.
SYNONYM(S) : Dracaena australis G. Forst.

That is straight forward enough. But what about:

Cordyline indivisa (G. Forst.) Steud.
SYNONYM(S) : Dracaena indivisa G. Forst., Terminalis indivisa (G. Forst.) Kuntze

Garden names:
The name Dracaena indivisa hort. was used almost exclusively in the nineteenth century (and even today) for Cordyline australis. This is from a website selling seeds of the true Cordyline indivisa :

Cordyline indivisa
Do not confuse this plant with the common Dracaena indivisa a.k.a. Cordyline australis of the plant trade. While the C. australis is commonly grown in mild temperate areas all over the world, the true C. indivisa is a rare and beautiful high altitude species from New Zealand. It is a tall and majestic plant with long leaves that can reach a width of more than 10 cm (4 in.), and in young plants are tinted yellow and orange. C. indivia prefers a moist, cool, even climate such as that of the Atlantic Coast in Europe or the Pacific Coast in the US and Canada.

It is unlikely that Cordyline indivisa was ever grown successfully at Monserrate despite the frequent references to Dracaena indivisa for example in 1885 & 1923.

However just in case here is the description:

Cordyline indivisa (G. Forst.) Steud.

Family: Laxmanniaceae. Also placed in: Agavaceae Asteliaceae Lomandraceae [GRIN Taxonomy for Plants] and of course old fashioned Liliaceae.

That's not very helpful, but reflects current flux and differences of opinion. The European Garden Flora places Cordyline in AGAVACEAE with the following comment: "A very troublesome family from the point of view of identification. Its separation from Liliaceae and the Amaryllidaceae is based, at least in part, on cytological, chemical and anatomical characters, and this makes a clear diagnosis of the family dificult to prepare." That was from my 1986 first edition and is by now itself quite old-fashioned. The family Laxmanniaceae is still not widely recognised, though New Zealand Botanists seem very keen, but then all the genera that are included within it are from the Pacific regions.

Asparagaceae seems to be the momentary consensus - Laxmanniaceae is admitted by APG II (Angiosperm Phylogeny Group; 2003) as an optional segregate from the family Asparagaceae.

Cordyline indivisa (G.Forst.) Endl., Ann. Wiener Mus. Naturgesch. 1: 162 (1836).


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