Plantae > Tracheophyta > Liliopsida > Asparagales > Asphodelaceae > Phormium > Phormium tenax

Phormium tenax (New Zealand flax)

Synonyms: Chlamydia tenacissima; Lachenalia ramosa; Phormium atropurpureum; Phormium flavovirens; Phormium nigropictum; Phormium ramosum; Phormium tenax f. atropurpureum; Phormium tenax var. atropurpureum; Phormium tenax var. foliis-variegatis; Phormium tenax var. saundersii; Phormium tenax var. variegatum; Phormium tenax var. veitchii; Phormium tenax variegatum

Wikipedia Abstract

Phormium tenax (called flax in New Zealand English; harakeke in Māori; New Zealand flax outside New Zealand; and New Zealand hemp in historical nautical contexts) is an evergreen perennial plant native to New Zealand and Norfolk Island that is an important fibre plant and a popular ornamental plant. The plant grows as a clump of long, straplike leaves, up to two metres long, from which arises a much taller flowering shoot, with dramatic yellow or red flowers.
View Wikipedia Record: Phormium tenax

Invasive Species

New Zeland flax Phormium tenax is considered a major threat to the recovery of critically endangered plant species in Saint Helena through competition with natives. Flax also reduces suitable habitat for native bird species by altering native plant communities.
View ISSG Record: Phormium tenax


Height [2]  9.8 feet (3 m)
Width [2]  6.6 feet (2 m)
Allergen Potential [1]  Low
Edible [2]  May be edible. See the Plants For A Future link below for details.
Flower Type [2]  Hermaphrodite
Leaf Type [2]  Evergreen
Lifespan [2]  Perennial
Structure [3]  Shrub
Usage [2]  A very high quality pliable fibre is obtained from the leaves; It is used in the manufacture of ropes (they are not very strong; The split leaves can be used to make nets, cloaks, sandals, straps etc; They are also used in making paper and basket making; A strip of a leaf is an excellent emergency string substitute for tying up plants in the garden, it can be tied into a knot without breaking; The leaf pulp, after the fibre has been removed, can be fermented to make alcohol; A gum found in the leaves is used as a paper glue; A brown dye is obtained from the flowers; A terra-cotta dye is obtained from the seedpods; A mauve can also be obtained; The flowers are rich in tannin;
View Plants For A Future Record : Phormium tenax

Protected Areas

Name IUCN Category Area acres Location Species Website Climate Land Use
Awarua Wetland 49421 South Island, New Zealand      
Braunton Burrows 3328 England, United Kingdom
Isles of Scilly Complex 66350 England, United Kingdom    
Lizard Point 34565 England, United Kingdom    
Lyme Bay and Torbay 77215 England, United Kingdom
Norfolk Island National Park II 1723 Australian external territories, Australia  

Prey / Diet

Phormium tenax (New Zealand flax)[4]


Anagotus fairburni[5]
Anthornis melanura (New Zealand Bellbird)[6]
Aspidiotus nerii (ivy scale)[5]
Athoracophorus bitentaculatus[4]
Balanococcus diminutus (New Zealand flax mealybug)[7]
Chorizococcus rostellum (Bermuda grass mealybug)[7]
Chrysomphalus dictyospermi (dictyospermum scale)[4]
Chrysomphalus pallens <Unverified Name>[7]
Clytolaema rubricauda (Brazilian Ruby)[4]
Ctenopseustis obliquana[5]
Epiphyas postvittana (Light brown apple moth)[5]
Eulepidosaphes pyriformis (pukatea pear-shaped scale)[7]
Florisuga fusca (Black Jacobin)[4]
Hadracalles fuliginosus[5]
Holopsis oblengus <Unverified Name>[5]
Isanthribus phormii <Unverified Name>[5]
Kikihia muta[5]
Leucaspis stricta[7]
Leucochloris albicollis (White-throated Hummingbird)[4]
Liothula omnivora[5]
Microlamia pygmaea[5]
Microtribus huttoni[5]
Mycetaspis sphaerioides[7]
Notiomystis cincta (Stitchbird)[6]
Novitas dispar[5]
Orthoclydon praefactata <Unverified Name>[5]
Orthoclydon praefectata[4]
Paracoccus glaucus[7]
Phloeophagosoma dilutum[5]
Phloeophagosoma pedatum[5]
Phloeophagosoma thoracicum[5]
Phormium tenax (New Zealand flax)[4]
Platycercus eximius (Eastern rosella)[4]
Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae (Tui)[6]
Pseudaulacaspis cockerelli (false oleander scale)[7]
Pseudaulacaspis cordylinidis[5]
Pseudococcus longispinus (long tailed mealybug)[8]
Psilocnaeia asteliae <Unverified Name>[5]
Psilocnaeia parvula <Unverified Name>[5]
Rhodesiopsis gelatinosa[4]
Saissetia coffeae (brown scale)[8]
Scolypopa australis[5]
Selenaspidus pumilus[7]
Stathmopoda skelloni[5]
Tetra cookiani <Unverified Name>[5]
Tetranychus moutensis[5]
Thalurania glaucopis (Violet-capped Woodnymph)[4]
Thrips obscuratus <Unverified Name>[5]
Thrips phormiicola <Unverified Name>[5]
Zeoliarus atkinsoni (Flax planthopper)[5]


Parasitized by 
Scolypopa australis (Passionvine planthopper)[4]

Institutions (Zoos, etc.)

Institution Infraspecies / Breed 
Kew Millennium Seed Bank Partnership


Norfolk I., New Zealand;



Attributes / relations provided by
1Derived from Allergy-Free Gardening OPALS™, Thomas Leo Ogren (2000)
2Plants For A Future licensed under a Creative Commons License
3Kattge, J. et al. (2011b) TRY - a global database of plant traits Global Change Biology 17:2905-2935
4Jorrit H. Poelen, James D. Simons and Chris J. Mungall. (2014). Global Biotic Interactions: An open infrastructure to share and analyze species-interaction datasets. Ecological Informatics.
5New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Plant-SyNZ™ database
6HONEYEATERS AND THE NEW ZEALAND FOREST FLORA: THE UTILISATION AND PROFITABILITY OF SMALL FLOWERS, Isabel Castro and Alastair W. Robertson, New Zealand Journal of Ecology (1997) 21(2): 169-179
7Ben-Dov, Y., Miller, D.R. & Gibson, G.A.P. ScaleNet 4 November 2009
8Biological Records Centre Database of Insects and their Food Plants
Protected Areas provided by Ramsar Sites Information Service
GBIF Global Biodiversity Information Facility
Biological Inventories of the World's Protected Areas in cooperation between the Information Center for the Environment at the University of California, Davis and numerous collaborators.
Images provided by Google Image Search
Abstract provided by DBpedia licensed under a Creative Commons License
Weather provided by NOAA METAR Data Access