Great info here:
–Growing 12 to 20 metres high, cabbage trees have lovely scented flowers in early summer, which turn into bluish-white berries that birds love to eat. As the plant gets old, the stems may die but new shoots grow from any part of the trunk. The bark is thick and tough like cork, and a huge fleshy taproot anchors the tree firmly into the ground.
–The trunk of the cabbage tree is so fire-resistant that early European settlers used it to make chimneys for their huts. Conveniently, too, the leaves made fine kindling. They also brewed beer from the root.
–Cabbage trees are good colonising species, growing happily on bare ground or exposed places. Their strong root system helps stop soil erosion on steep slopes and because they tolerate wet soil, they are a useful species for planting along stream banks.
–Maori used cabbage trees as a food, fibre and medicine. The root, stem and top are all edible, a good source of starch and sugar. The fibre is separated by long cooking or by breaking up before cooking. The leaves were woven into baskets, sandals, rope, rain capes and other items and were also made into tea to cure diarrhoea and dysentery.
–Cabbage trees were also planted to mark trails, boundaries, urupa (cemeteries) and births, since they are generally long-lived.
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