Phormium tenax   harakeke/flax

Life Form:
Large ground herb

Flowers Seeds Dispersal:
Flowers are bird pollinated and seeds are wind blown

Phormium tenax is well adapted to grow in swampy places, the roots form rafts out over the water, trapping sediment and transforming water margins to dry ground. Because it is adapted to swamps it will also thrive in low nutrient soils found along cliffs as well. Being adapted to exposed sites, harakeke is tolerant of both wind and frost and because of its growth form it is ideal early shelter for other less hardy species. Phormium tenax is however intolerant of shade and will disappear from an area as taller neighbors take over. Flax was exploited as a raw material for ropes in the first half of the twentieth centaury and for a range of uses by Maori people before that. For that reason, this species has been selectively bred and redistributed around the landscape possibly more than any other native species. Ecosourced specimens are difficult to find. Harakeke in the Waikato flower later than wharariki so they don't generally cross pollinate