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

Phormium tenax (New Zealand flax)


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


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;
Height [2]  9.84 feet (3 m)
Width [2]  6.56 feet (2 m)
View Plants For A Future Record : Phormium tenax

Protected Areas

Prey / Diet

Phormium tenax (New Zealand flax)[4]



Parasitized by 
Scolypopa australis (Passionvine planthopper)[4]

Institutions (Zoos, etc.)

Institution Infraspecies / Breed 
Kew Millennium Seed Bank Partnership


Norfolk I., New Zealand;

External References

USDA Plant Profile



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.
Abstract provided by DBpedia licensed under a Creative Commons License