The two main varieties of New Zealand flax are (left) Phormium tenax – harakeke or swamp flax – and Phormium cookianum – wharariki or mountain flax. New Zealand Flax Varieties There are many colourful and variegated varieties of New Zealand Flax on the market today these include-Phormium Anna Red Flax- clear bright colour of dark red/maroon/purple leaves that grows to 1.2m high, 1m wide. – Flax and flax working – Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand", "Miranui – The Story of New Zealand's Largest Flax Mill", "THE NEW ZEALAND OFFICIAL YEAR – BOOK 1893", "Full text of "Flax mills : their machinery, accidents occurring therein, with suggestions for their prevention, "Arbitration Act becomes law | NZHistory, New Zealand history online",, Articles with dead external links from December 2017, Articles with permanently dead external links, Articles with unsourced statements from December 2007, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 13 December 2020, at 15:56. National New Zealand Flax Collection. The handmade flax cording and ropes had such great tensile strength that they were used to successfully bind together sections of hollowed out logs to create huge ocean-going canoes (waka). Plaiting and weaving (raranga) the flax fibres into baskets were but only two of the great variety of uses made of flax by Māori who recognised nearly 60 varieties, and who carefully propagated their own flax nurseries and plantations throughout the land. The focus is on adaptation to Eastern Canada, high yield, lodging resistance and enhanced quality. Many plants in containers grow 1 to 4 ft. tall, but Phormium tenax can reach 10 feet under ideal conditions. They have played an important part in the cultural and economic history of New Zealand for both the Māori people and the later European settlers. Types of flax. For 4 tons the cost was calculated as depreciation 12s, 8 men's wages @ 25s a week, £10; an engineman £1 15; 12 lads @ 12s, £7 4s; 24 tons of green flax @ 15s £18; packing, baling, etc. They also made baskets, mats and fishing nets from undressed flax. [28], Flax leaves were cut, bundled, taken to the mill and fed through a stripping machine. Fibres of various strengths were used to fashion eel traps (hinaki), surprisingly large fishing nets (kupenga) and lines, bird snares, cordage for ropes, baskets (kete), bags, mats, clothing, sandals (paraerae), buckets, food baskets (rourou), and cooking utensils etc. Welcome to part 1 of my tutorial on how to prepare Harakeke (NZ Flax - Phormium Tenax) for weaving - see also my website Driven by the desperate need for muskets and ammunition, many Māori moved to unhealthy swamplands where flax could be grown, and there devoted insufficient labour to the production of food, until any survivors were fully equipped, first with musket and ammunition, and then with iron tools. Wharariki has softer leaves and … Commercial re-use may be allowed on request. "[31][32] Mills were burnt too. There are large varieties that can reach 10 feet in height with either green or bronze coloring depending on the variety. Juice from pounded roots was used as a disinfectant, and taken internally to relieve constipation or expel worms. It listed up to 24 varieties, with many regional variations in names.[13]. About ten days later the muka was scutched and baled for export, though some mills had ropewalks for local production. It takes almost any soil and tolerates drought and coastal conditions; good drainage, how- … Thousands of new, high-quality pictures added every day. The flax looper caterpillar (Orthoclydon praefactata), native to New Zealand, feeds at night on the underside of P. tenax leaves, leaving a ‘window’ of the leaf cuticle. It is very common to grow these plants in large containers, moving them indoors for the winter in colder climates. Tough, easy to grow and … Several times the possibility of commercial papermaking from the fibre from Phormium tenax has been investigated, but currently it is used only by artists and craftsmen producing handmade papers. It is a mild anaesthetic, and Māori traditionally applied the sap to boils and various wounds, to aching teeth, to rheumatic and associated pains, ringworm and various skin irritations, and scalds and burns. The Purchas And Ninnis Flax", "Rangitahi Peninsula Archaeological and Cultural Survey and Assessment – Report for Raglan Land Company", "Report Of The Committee Of The Industrial Exhibition", "Papers Past — Timaru Herald — 2 February 1870 — The Timaru Herald. Most varieties are variegated, and each variety can have a wide range of colours in its leaves. Best colour is achieved when planted in full sun. Phormium Tenax is the New Zealand Flax. Avoid planting phormium under trees that shed, like redwoods. Common Name: New Zealand Flax. [10] "The taking of slaves increased – slaves who could be put to work dressing flax...". Rugged New Zealand flax, Phormium tenax, and its selections are sturdy and fast growing. The flax, from 11 different varieties, are significant to Māori weavers and have been translocated from a private property on the outskirts the Hamilton. Fibers obtained from white flower flax are harder, so they have a low value, as opposed to purple flower flax. Old New Zealand: being Incidents of Native Customs and Character in the Old Times by 'A Pakeha Maori' (Frederick Edward Maning), originally published 1863., The Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1894, "The Flax Industry | Saint Helena Island Info: All about St Helena, in the South Atlantic Ocean", "Wharariki, Phormium – The University of Auckland", "History of the Phormium Fibre Export Trade", "Designing the Future – Celebrating the Past", "Private Acts. Both species and their cultivars have now been widely distributed to temperate regions of the world as ornamental garden plants – and to lesser extent for fibre production.[1][2]. Harakeke is quite a unique looking plant that actually comes in quite a few varieties. From about the 1860s there was an active industry harvesting and processing flax for export, peaking at 32,000 tons in 1916, but the general depression of the 1930s brought the virtual collapse of this trade. The seed pods droop and twist, becoming thin and papery with age. In the demonstration garden on the nursery grounds, each variety that we sell has been planted into a garden setting. [20] Many others patented variations, but the basic design was that leaves were fed between rollers, then hit by iron beaters, revolving faster than the feeder, thus stripping the epidermis from the fibre. Captain Cook wrote: “Of the leaves of these plants, with very little preparation, they (the Māori) make all their common apparel; and of these they make also their strings, lines and cordage …”. [36] There were also frequent[37] cases of workers caught in machines. Looks good in a pot, massed planted or used as contrast. The slimy fibre was bunched, washed and the muka hung to dry. [5], Chemical analysis shows the antifungal, anti-inflammatory drug,[6] musizin, and laxative anthraquinones are in common and mountain flaxes. [16] The fibre was coarser than hand-stripped flax, but by 1868 machines could produce about 250 kg (550 lb) per day, compared to about 1 kg (2.2 lb) by hand stripping. Phormium tenax (left), also known as harakeke or swamp flax, has stiff leaves, red flowers, and upright seed pods. Grasses & flax for sale in New Zealand. For instance the minimum wage paid this season at Mr Rutherford's Te Aoterei mill has been 11s 3d for a ten-hour day. New Zealand flax attracts birds and is not attractive to deer. New Zealand flax is grown primarily for its colorful, architectural foliage. All text licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand Licence unless otherwise stated. Wharariki has softer leaves and is found on mountain slopes and coastal cliffs. Splints were fashioned from korari (flower stalks) and leaves, and fine cords of muka fibre utilise the styptic properties of the gel before being used to stitch wounds. "[41] The Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1894[42] and growth of unions improved the low pay and conditions. Initially wild stands of flax were harvested but plantations were established with three in existence by 1851. The dried flower stalks, which are extremely light, were bound together with flax twine to make river rafts called mokihi. 1.2m. The mature size of your New Zealand flax plant will depend on the variety and your growing conditions. The green fleshy substance of the leaf was stripped off, again using a mussel shell, right through to the fibre which went through several processes of washing, bleaching, fixing, softening, dyeing and drying. The Maori name for this plant is harakeke. 1.3m x 1.3m. LATEST TELEGRAMS", "Progress Of New Zealand In Manufactures", "4. [33][34], By 1890 3,198 people were employed, but average pay was only £73 a year,[35] among the lowest of average wage rates at the time. [25], In boom times flax was profitable. The nets were woven from green flax, with stone weights and light wood or gourd floats, and could require hundreds of men to haul. [21] Patents included Ritchie in 1862,[22] Gibbons[23] and Nelson in 1870,[24] and Williams in 1893. A large mill at Halswell had six of their patent strippers by 1868. Although given the common name 'flax' they are quite distinct from the Northern Hemisphere plant known as flax (Linum usitatissimum) [8], Thus, by the early 19th century, the quality of rope materials made from New Zealand flax was known internationally,[9] as was the quality of New Zealand trees which were used for spars and masts. Flax snails, a rare land snail living only in the Far North, often shelter under flax bushes. A striking native flax like plant with long silver leaves. The yield of flax cultures varies depending on the purpose and variety of the flax seeds used, given that this plant is cultivated for both seed and fiber. Machinery was estimated at £500 – 8 hp engine with Cornish boiler £200; 4 strippers @ £22, £88; scutching hooks, £15; a screw press £12; building £185. Characteristics of … Some warriors wore coats of heavily plaited Phormium tenax, which gave defense characteristics similar to a medieval gambeson, slowing musket balls to be wounding rather than deadly. There are two species of New Zealand flax. P. tenax occurs naturally in New Zealand and Norfolk Island, while P. colensoi is endemic to New Zealand. In 1963 there were still 14 flax mills producing a total of almost 5,000 tons of fibre per year, but the last of them closed in 1985. It has sword-like leaves that shoot up from the base of the plant and new hybrids are now available in … However, as with identifying many plants or animals it’s not that simple. Buy and sell Grasses & flax on Trade Me. The flax, from 11 different varieties, are significant to Māori weavers and have been translocated from a private property on the outskirts the Hamilton. Maori woman wearing the traditional costume made of flax fibre, c. 1880, Photo of Rewi Manga Maniapoto in a flax cloak, 1879, For centuries, Māori have used nectar from the flowers for medicinal purposes and as a general sweetener. All rights reserved. [11] A burgeoning flax industry developed with the fibres being used for rope, twine, matting, carpet under felt, and wool packs. [12], A Parliamentary Commission in 1870 reported on all aspects of the flax industry. © Crown Copyright. [43][44] By 1913 a commentator wrote, "A few years ago flax milling was largely done by boys who received a few shillings per day, now in these more enlightened (?) Kahutoi Te Kanawa, 'Te raranga me te whatu - The art of te whare pora', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 18 January 2021), Story by Kahutoi Te Kanawa, published 22 Oct 2014. The gum-like sap produced by harakeke contains enzymes that give it blood clotting and antiseptic qualities to help healing processes. Permission from Manaaki Whenua: Landcare Research New Zealand Limited must be obtained before the re-use of this image. With the help of wakas, pre-European Māori deployed seine nets which could be over one thousand metres long. Phormium Jester Flax- has long arching red/pink and bright green leaves, medium to large variety 1.2 metres Otherwise, very easy care. In fact, the flax from which linen comes could hardly be more different than our hefty, clump-forming phormiums. It grows mainly on lowland swamps throughout New Zealand. Astelia 'Westland' A red or bronze form of this popular native. [19] Dougall was an exception in declining to patent his stripper. Description Tougher than other purperea Phormiums, yet more vivid Size 80-90cm high x 80-90cm wide There are several different varieties of Phormium tenax; in fact, it seems like a new variety is introduced on a yearly basis. donated by Rene Orchiston of Gisborne. There are two species – common flax and mountain flax. flax bush New Zealand hemp see more; Family Hemerocallidaceae Genus Phormium are evergreen perennials, making a large clump of leathery, strap-shaped leaves, with tall panicles of small, tubular flowers in summer Details P. tenax is a robust evergreen perennial making a medium-sized clump of dark grey-green, strap-shaped leaves. Perfect for contrast this very popular plant has many landscape uses. The first method is the traditional way and if the flax variety is suited to it, it is less time-consuming. The 50 harakeke were selected long ago from natural stands and cultivated by … New Zealand flax plant care is minimal once plants are mature, but the flax may suffer damaged and shredded leaf tips in windy and exposed sites. The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. Although given the common name 'flax' they are quite distinct from the Northern Hemisphere plant known as flax (Linum usitatissimum). Although the Māori made textiles from a number of other plants, including tī kōuka, tōī, pingao, kiekie, toetoe and the paper mulberry, the use of harakeke and wharariki was predominant. Phormium ‘Sundowner’ Is one of the larger and older flax varieties out thEre – it grows up to about 1.8m tall – and is still one of the best pinks. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand Licence. That trip was by way of an experiment to confirm the value of flax, but he continued trading until 1836 and several other traders followed his example. The Phormium hybrids around today all found their start in New Zealand. Already in the past the quantity of green flax destroyed by this agency is very great. An 1870 news item said an acre, with 2 crops a year, could produce 2 tons of fibre, equating to £40 a year, or a net profit of £27 0s 3d, the cost being estimated at £12 19s 9d. Most varieties are fairly frost-hardy but don't be tempted to rip off the burned leaves - they'll protect the younger growth inside. The pulp of pounded leaves was applied as dressings to bullet, bayonet or other wounds. The striking lance-shaped leaves can come in several bold colors. Not all flax varieties have fibre that is long enough to make fibre ends, so test the length of fibre in a single strip from the flax plant you’re thinking of cutting. Carex buchananii. Phormium cookianum (right), also known as wharariki or mountain flax, has softer leaves and yellow flowers. Both are quite large growing, with distinctive sword shaped leaves. Landcare Research – Manaaki Whenua Photographs by Robert Lamberts and Sue Scheele. In the time that we have been growing and selling this group of plants we have learned much about them. Different type of cloaks, such as kahu kiwi and kahu kākā, were produced by adorning them with colourful feathers from different native birds, such as kiwi, kaka (parrot), tui, huia and kereru (woodpigeon). Manaaki Whenua is kaitiaki of a collection of traditional weaving varieties of harakeke (NZ flax, Phormium spp.) Leaves were cut near the base of the plant using a sharp mussel shell or specially shaped rocks, more often than not greenstone (jade, or pounamu). [30], With extensive burning of bush, few fire brigades, and little piped water, fire was a hazard for most buildings and flax was no exception. In 1986 we printed a handout titled "Cut Me Some Flax: Phormium Hybrids". [28] A & G Price built almost 100 flax machines in 1868[29] and, by August 1869, had sold 166. donated by Rene Orchiston of Gisborne. [28], Mills were driven by water wheels, small stationary steam engines, or portable engines. Manaaki Whenua is kaitiaki of a collection of traditional weaving varieties of harakeke (NZ flax, Phormium spp.) £4; 2 tons 8cwt. There are two varieties of New Zealand flax - Phormium tenax or Harakeke and Phormium cookianum or Wharariki. [17] Johnstone Dougall (1822–1892), a carpenter,[18] also invented a flax-stripper about 1868, which he put in his first mill at Waiuku. Their striking, upright form lends phormium to modern designs, yet the genus integrates well in a variety of styles. There are two ways to prepare the fibre ends on the strips. Characteristics: Gardeners know it as a large and often colorful spiky plant that makes an arresting focal point in the garden or in containers. The 50 harakeke were selected long ago from natural stands and cultivated by Māori weavers for their special leaf and fibre properties. The flax trade burgeoned, especially after male Māori recognised the advantages of trade and adapted to helping in the harvesting and dressing of flax which had previously been done exclusively by females. There are many coloured flax varieties ranging in colour from deep reds to yellow and soft green. The specimens – - ruahine, whareongaonga, wharariki, tūtaewheke, taiore, atarau, wharanui and tukura - were from the collection of local weaver Penney Cameron, who had obtained them over several years. New Zealand flax describes the common New Zealand perennial plants Phormium tenax and Phormium colensoi, known by the Māori names harakeke and wharariki respectively. days a boy gets a man’s wage. Suggested Varieties of New Zealand Flax. Phormium is a genus of two plant species in the Asphodelaceae family. Harakeke is more upright and larger, and Wharariki is slightly more 'floppy' and smaller. Frayed ends of flax leaves were fashioned into torches and lights for use at night. [38][39][40] Initially unions were resisted, as in the report of an 1891 strike, which said, "Mr Hall intends to proceed to Auckland for the purpose of procuring fresh men to work the mill. [26], So the inventions were quickly taken up, flax mills increasing from 15 in 1867, to 110 in 1874,[27] though another source says there were 161 mills by 1870, employing 1,766. All non-text content is subject to specific conditions. This plant's large selection originates, surprisingly, from only two species. [9], In 1860 Purchas and Ninnis got the country's first patent[14] for a flax machine. Māori practised advanced weft twining in phormium fibre cloaks.[3]. [citation needed], In winter 1823 Captain John Rodolphus Kent went to Foveaux Strait, filled 14 large casks with flax, bought 1,100 lb (500 kg) of dressed flax, and took 25 flax plants. While most phormiums dislike humid summers and cold winters, New Zealand flax accepts the Southern climate. Dwarf varieties can anchor a container, while some cultivars hit 15 feet in the garden. "[45], This article is about the fiber. In 1890 a report on a fire in a large quantity of growing flax said, "These fires in most cases arise from gross carelessness, which might easily be avoided. The cords (muka whenu) form the base cloth for intricate cloaks or garments (kākahu) such as the highly prized traditional feather cloak (kahu huruhuru). The two main varieties of New Zealand flax are (left) Phormium tenax – harakeke or swamp flax – and Phormium cookianum – wharariki or mountain flax. There are many varieties of each of these two species. WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 1870. Find flax plant stock images in HD and millions of other royalty-free stock photos, illustrations and vectors in the Shutterstock collection. Boiled and crushed harakeke roots were applied externally as a poultice for boils, tumours and abscesses, as well as to varicose ulcers. © Copyright image. Harakeke has stiff leaves and grows mainly in lowland swamps. Harakeke has stiff leaves and grows mainly in lowland swamps. No varieties have been released yet, however, the program has reached maturity and several cultivars should be released soon. We wish to share our observations and experiences with you. Tree duff, if not removed, will rot the crown. Harakeke is used as bandages and can secure broken bones much as plaster is used today. 7 Flax Facts . One species is endemic to New Zealand and the other is native to New Zealand and Norfolk Island. Nov 8, 2018 - If you are unfamiliar with the range of colors and styles that Phormium come in then you are about to see just how big of an impact Phormium can have on your landscaping endeavors. There are three types of fiber flax flower varieties: white, purple and blue. The flax fibre, called muka, is laboriously washed, pounded and hand wrung to make soft for the skin. Coloured flaxes are not usually used for weaving, although they can be used for smaller items such as woven flowers, or can be added as a feature to other weaving. of coal, £2 8s and freight etc., £5. Now, there are countless variegated forms in differing heights and mixes of color from pinks, whites, reds, … All of these plants came in foliage shades of green and a few bronze-red. The flax notcher moth (Tmeolphota steropastis), also native to New Zealand and a nocturnal feeder, leaves notches at the edges of young leaves (Scheele, 2016). Improvements by 1910 increased that to 1.27 tonnes a day. Production peaked between 1901 and 1918, but rust, depression and pasture replacing flax swamps, resulted in almost all mills closing by the 1930s. All 'fancy flax' or ornamental flax cultivars are derived from these parents. The Royal Navy was one of the largest customers. [15] It took a ton of leaves a day[16] and produced about 0.2 long tons (200 kg) of fibre. Both brown and yellow flax varieties are being developed. Perhaps nowhere can the beauty and variety of flax as an ornamental plant be as readily appreciated as at New Zealand Flax Hybridisers in Tauranga, an enterprise Margaret Jones (at right) has built up over 30 years. [4] It was also used to make rigging, sails and lengthy anchor warps, and roofs for housing. With so many varieties and cultivars such as the dark foliage Phormium ‘Platt’s Black’, the copper colored dwarf variety Phormium ‘Bronze Baby’ the magnificent two toned lime green and yellow Phormium ‘Yellow Wave Flax’ and the red tones of Phormium ‘Jester’ the New Zealand Flax is a versatile landscaping plant. The flax tolerates partial sun but will perform better in full sun situations. It is easy to maintain, drought tolerant when established and makes a good erosion control. Since each of the cultivars can only be propagated by breaking off fans of young leaves from a parental plant, 15 years may elapse between the time a new variety is produced and sufficient … New Zealand flax describes the common New Zealand perennial plants Phormium tenax and Phormium colensoi, known by the Māori names harakeke and wharariki respectively. [7], During the early Musket Wars and later New Zealand Wars, Māori used large, thickly woven flax mats to cover entrances and lookout holes in their "gunfighter's pā" fortifications. Origin: Phormium tenax occurs naturally in New Zealand and Norfolk Island, while Phormium cookianum is endemic to New Zealand. What’s more, each new variety has more color variations and is more ornamental than the last.