Permaculture Plant: New Zealand Flax (Harakeke)

BOTANICAL NAME: Phormium tenax

ORIGIN: New Zealand and Norfolk Island

DESCRIPTION: This clumping, evergreen, perennial plant has sword-like leaves to two metres long, and grows to sixteen metres. It will grow in most soil types, is relatively frost tolerant and moderately drought tolerant once established. Cultivars come in a wide range of colours.

Unlike the plant commonly known as flax in Australia (Linum usitatissium or linseed), New Zealand flax is more closely related to day lily. It can be grown successfully in most of Australia, except for the arid interior.