Native Cabbage-Tree Palm

Ark of taste
Back to the archive >

The cabbage-tree palm (Livistona australis) is an Australian evergreen tall, slender palm that grows to about 25 meters in height. Crowned with dark, glossy green leaves plaited like a fan. Flower spikes with sprigs of cream-white flowers appear in summer. It is frost and wind tolerant. Usually found in moist forest or near the sea along the New South Wales, in Queensland and Victoria.

The cabbage-tree palm is a traditional food for coastal Indigenous communities. It did have value for early settlers (ornamental/for shade; copying Indigenous people by eating the hearts; and using the trunks for feeding troughs for cattle).

Although still around, there have been huge losses of the native cabbage tree palm since colonisation times due to destruction of natural habitat for urban developments. As replacement of harvested plants (cutting out the heart for eating will result in the palm dying), is by seed and thus very slow, it is important to protect Livistona Australis going forward.

The young and tender leaves are harvested and eaten like cabbages. It can be consumed raw or cooked. Used by Indigenous communities only as an emergency food or celebratory food as cutting out the heart destroys the plant. Indigenous groups across the country know only to take a certain size of the plant to have their children taste it; however family rules are that no other trees are to be taken to try and conserve what is left.

Back to the archive >

Other info


Vegetables and vegetable preserves

Indigenous community:Budawang people (Dhurga language group), South Coast of NSW)
Nominated by:Noel Butler & Slow Food Shoalhaven committee