This vast group is classified in the Agavaceae family with most members native to India, Australasia and Polynesia. The genus was named by French botanist, Philibert Commerson in the middle 18th century who derived it from the Greek for club, referring to the thick club-shaped root. The entire genus Cordyline is always subject to a great deal of confusion because of their similarity to both Phormium and Yucca. This is complicated by their former genus, Dracaena, Batistii, and Robinsoniana. This particular plant is a cultivar of the common New Zealand cabbage tree, C. australis, bred with C. banksii and C. pumilo. It was developed by Jark Jury and has just recently reached the world market via Anthony Tesselaar International.
In its home, the South Pacific, this plant was named cabbage tree because of its roots provided a valuable carbohydrate food source. Early missionaries actually brewed beer from it. The leaves and roots provided plentiful fibers for everything from food wrappers to thatching and sandals. The Maori and others helped to distribute various species throughout the Pacific Islands.