Common name: He Cabbage
Scientific name:Pladaroxylon Leucodendron
IUCN status: Critically endangered
The he cabbage is now very rare on the island but was once bundant amongst the cabbagetree woodland, growing alongside whitewoods and she cebbages. The few trees tht survivetoday cn be found growing within the Diana’s Peak National Park and at High Peak.
The cabbage tree woodland was largely cleared to make way for pasture land and laterNew Zealand flax plantations. Less than 100 trees now survive and these are distributedbetween nine different locations within Diana’s National Park and the High Peakpopulation.
Isolation of the different populations presents a threat to the future survival of thehe cabbage. As only a few individuals survive in any one location there is a highprobability that these populations will become extinct. Not only are they threatened bypoor seed viability/poor regeneration and inseed predation, but in many places the treesare mature or senile. The loss of these individuals is inevitable and this means that thenumbers in each location will continue to decline because they are not beeing replaced byyoung trees. Inbreeding, the mating of close relatives, could also cause the decline infitness of the populations because the differnet populations are reproductively isolatedfrom each other.
The he cabbage is a small spreading tree growing up to 3-4m in height with grey-greenbark. The leaves are clustered towards the end of each branch and are very variable insize, growing up to about 0.3m in length. The leaves are pale green and rougher than thoseof the black cabbage and have slightly toothed edges with very prominent veins.
The white composite flowers form terminal clusters on the branches, resembling the headof a cauliflower. Flowers appear from June to August.
NUMBER OF SURVIVING POPULATIONS
There are only nine surviving populations of the he cabbage within the National Park.The numbers in each population range from one individual to 35. A few he cabbage trees canbe found at High Peak. However, there is very little evidence of natural regeneration formost of the populations. The largest population of 35 individuals doea have a mixture ofage ranges including young seedlings.
CONSERVATION RECOVERY PROGRAMMES
Under the National Park Management Plan, he cabbages are being planted out in severallocations across the Peaks. Seed is collected annually, the seed raised at the nursery atScotland and the seedlings then used in the Peaks plantings. Efforts are also being madeto collect cuttings from a wide range of individuals. These cuttings, as well as seed,will be included in a seed orchard which is currently being set up in the Diana’s PeakNational Park.