New Zealand Flax

Phormium tenax

Phormium tennax:  New Zealand Flax 

Phormium tenax New Zealand Flax
Phormium tenax, New Zealand Flax

New Zealand flax is completely unrelated to common flax or linseed of the Northern Hemisphere . The fibre of it was

used by the Maoris for weaving into coarse fabric, ropes, flooring and baskets but doesn’t have the fine quality of linen.

Outside New Zealand Phormium tennax  is grown as a garden plant. It is a huge 2-3 metre perennial plant with dramatic flowers that look like candelabras. There are also many small cultivars and hybrids often with coloured or variegated leaves..

Linum usitatissimum: flax

Linum usitatissimum, common flax

Flax or linseed, Linum usitatissimum, which originated in the fertile crescent and was improved in ancient Egypt  to the crop we grow today to produce fine fabric, strong supple ropes, webbing. The fibre comes from its long straight stems; Linseed oil is pressed from the seeds.