Festival Burgundy

It’s a double dactyl and an eye-catching plant.

Seen at the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto yesterday, attractive foliage plants like these (which I’m now thinking of adding to the container garden on my front patio):

(#1) Cordyline x JURred ‘Festival™ Burgundy’ (also comes in Lime and Raspberry)

From the Monrovia nursery site:

Bright burgundy-red foliage creates a dramatic and eye-catching grass-like effect with long arching leaves. Tiny white blooms appear on dark red stems in summer. Spectacular paired with bright-colored foliage and flowers. Plant in drifts along walkway borders or in foundation plantings. A bold architectural form in container gardens. Evergreen.

And — surprise! — it’s a hybrid variant of the Hawaiian ti plant (ti pronounced like tea, though it has nothing to do with the beverage-tea tree Camellia sinensis or the Melaleuca trees sometimes called tea trees).

On the genus, from Wikipedia:

Cordyline is a genus of about 15 species of woody monocotyledonous flowering plants in family Asparagaceae, subfamily Lomandroideae. The subfamily has previously been treated as a separate family Laxmanniaceae, or Lomandraceae. Other authors have placed the genus in the Agavaceae (now Agavoideae). [Some days botanical taxonomy and its accompanying terminology make my head hurt. In this case, I’ll just stick with the family Asparagaceae.] Cordyline is native to the western Pacific Ocean region, from New Zealand, eastern Australia, southeastern Asia and Polynesia, with one species found in western South America.

The name Cordyline comes from the Greek word kordyle, meaning “club,” a reference to the enlarged underground stems or rhizomes.

(Pronunciation note. I’d been pronouncing the genus name /’kɔrdɪlin/, but now I discover that dictionaries offer only /kɔrdɪ’lajni/ (“kore-dih-LYE-nee”) or /kɔr’dɪlɪni/ (“kor-DI-li-nee”), mostly favoring the first. Pronouncing Greek-derived botanical names is a minefield.)

In the genus: C. australis, from Wikipedia:


Cordyline australis, commonly known as the cabbage tree, cabbage-palm or tī kōuka, is a widely branched monocot tree endemic to New Zealand.

… It is also grown as an ornamental tree in higher latitude Northern Hemisphere countries with maritime climates, including parts of the upper West Coast of the United States and the British Isles, where its common names include Torbay palm and Torquay palm. It does not do well in hot tropical climates.

And the species hybridized in #1, C. fruticosa, from Wikipedia:


Cordyline fruticosa is an evergreen flowering plant in the Asparagus family, Asparagaceae, known by a wide variety of common names, including cabbage palm, good luck plant, palm lily, ti plant, Kī, Lā‘ī (Hawaiian), Tī Pore (Māori), Sī (Tongan), Lauti (Samoan), and ʻAutī (Tahitian).

… It is native to tropical southeastern Asia, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, northeastern Australia, the Indian Ocean, and parts of Polynesia. It is not native to either Hawaii or New Zealand but was introduced to both by Polynesian settlers.

… In ancient Hawaiʻi the plant was thought to have great spiritual power; only kahuna (high priests) and aliʻi (chiefs) were able to wear leaves around their necks during certain ritual activities. Tī leaves were also used to make lei, and to outline borders between properties it was also planted at the corners of the home to keep ghosts from entering the home or property (for which its alternative name: terminalis). To this day some Hawaiians plant tī near their houses to bring good luck. The leaves are also used for lava sledding. A number of leaves are lashed together and people ride down hills on them. Ancient Hawaii also believe that the leaves has a medicinal use as antiseptic and diuretic.

The roots of the tī plant were used as a glossy covering on surfboards in Hawaii in the early 1900s.

Ti is a popular ornamental plant, with numerous cultivars available, many of them selected for green or reddish or purple foliage.

In Hawaii, tī rhizomes are fermented and distilled to make okolehao, a liquor.

[Added later in the day: I’ve now bought a plant from the Gamble Garden — they have lots of great plants for sale — and it turns out to be a hybrid from a different source: ‘Design-a-line Burgundy [‘Roma 06’] PP24,764 (Burgundy Cordyline). PP24,764 is the plant patent number. Not that I can tell it from ‘Festival Burgundy’.]

2 Responses to “Festival Burgundy”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    Pronouncing Greek-derived botanical names is a minefield.

    Tell me about it (Latin-derived too). For years I’ve been growing Ageratum,and pronouncing the third syllable like rat, until my sister-in-law admired my ager-ATE-um and I subsequently found that as the recommended pronunciation in one of my seed catalogs.

    Not to mention that until shortly before I acquired some, I thought that Cotoneaster was pronounced like cotton+Easter.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      I had the good fortune to hear Cotoneaster pronounced before I saw it in print. But I’ve had a rat in Ageratum since I was a kid (and grew them in the back yard).

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