Cabbage tree problem
November 06, 2004 11:57PM
A gardening query on a foodie website. ?:-(

About 2yrs ago we planted a garden with palms, yukka and a cabbage tree. All are doing really well except for the cabbage tree. Its like something is eating the leaves (I guess thats what you call the long things). There are holes everywhere and then the bottoms ones turn brown like they've died. I've been chopping the dead ones away, but now the cabbage tree is just covered in holes.
Can't see any bugs.
Anybody got any ideas on how to deal with this???


Raewyn G
Re: Cabbage tree problem
November 07, 2004 12:23AM
I think some snail/slug pellets will solve your problem of holey leaves.
As for the dead leaves, pull them off rather than cutting. They make great firelighters when a group of them are tied in a knot. My Mum prided herself in her cabbage trees, and could certainly get them to grow. Hopefully the new owners of our family home enjoy them as much as Mum did.
Hope this helps!
Re: Cabbage tree problem
November 07, 2004 03:02AM
All the cabbage trees around our area have a disease, and are (or have) all lost there leaves! and now left with sculptural branches aiming towards the sky!! our healthy one has started to get holey leaves, and is heading towards the sculptural stage!
Good Luck with the saving of your tree...or it could be something you have a complete lack of control over!!
Re: Cabbage tree problem
November 07, 2004 03:14AM
it's a native moth/caterpillars - the only answer is pesticide - I bit the bullet and used a chemical last year and they are back with a vengeance this year - we have used a pyrethrum based spray this time and will continune to wait and see what happens.

The great thing about ti kouka (cabbage trees) is that they are so hardy, when the hearts were picked for eating, the tree branches off like a Dr Seuss tree!!! So I figure if all the leaves get eaten one year then maybe it will stress the tree into producing offshoot branches....maybe
Re: Cabbage tree problem
November 07, 2004 07:43AM
As far as I know, it's a caterpillar. Try sprinkling derris dust so it gets down to the area where the leaves connect to the main trunk. Also, cabbage tree leaves naturally die off at the bottom layer level, as the tree grows. I used to plant cabbage trees in my days of preferring natives, but got so sick of picking up their leaves (mature trees drop a minimum of probably five a day and after a windy day you can expect to pick up 50 or so) I would never plant one now. Suffice to say, our current property has three cabbage trees and, of course, I would not chop them out so am doomed to leaf gathering.
Re: Cabbage tree problem
November 07, 2004 07:53AM
Yeah its a caterpillar, best thing to do is get a good pesticide, with gloves on, ensure the liguid gets down into the tip of the tree, if you can reach that , and pour it down there, as thats where they hide.
wash hands really well after.
if you want, put a drop of colour in the water / pesticide so you can see where its been or gone.

it will take a while to see if the new leaves are better, but if you do it regularly for a while (fortnightly for a month - 6 weeks) you should have got rid of them.

you may have to peel away some of the leaves, but try to make sure to get a good dollop of liquid in the centre.

as to the leaves only remove the dead brown ones, and pull them down so they tear off. do not do that when still green, as damage is then done to the trunk, and yes if the leader is damaged it will have multiple heads then, most trees do that.

best of luck.

Re: Cabbage tree problem
November 08, 2004 12:50AM
Thanks everybody. I've now just finished spraying the cabbage tree and you wouldn't believe how many caterpillars came scurrying out, when I squirted down towards the trunk.
I'm amazed at how much they've eaten in the past few days, and I don't think there is now ONE leaf without holes in it. So I'll continue with the spraying regime, and hopefully get rid of them. I prefer to not use sprays, if possible, but sometimes it seems to be the only solution.
Fortunately all the other plants in the same garden are still going strong. Looks like they're just hungry for cabbage trees.

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