Highlight: Dracaena palm

Modern dracaena palm cultivars stay shorter.

Contributed photo

Dracaena palm, Cordyline australis, is not a palm at all. It is more closely related to yuccas. (Incidentally, a few yuccas are also inaccurately known as palms as well, but that is another story.)

The simple specie that grows taller than a two-story house is rare nowadays. It develops a high-branched canopy of evergreen olive drab foliage. The 3-inch-wide leaves are about 3 feet long.

Modern cultivars stay significantly shorter, with somewhat shorter and less pendulous leaves. Some are nicely bronzed or purplish. Others are variegated with creamy white, pale yellow or pinkish brown.

Trusses of minute flowers that bloom in early summer are not much to look at, and drop sawdust-like frass as they deteriorate. Bloom might be greenish white or blushed, and then fades to tan. Most modern cultivars do not bloom much, or may not bloom at all.

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The gray trunks have an appealingly corky texture. -- Tony Tomeo

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