Mystery plant a mystery no more


Thank you to Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner (from the Pacific Bulb Society) for identifying my mystery plant.

The mystery plant has been identified as Phormium tenax or New Zealand Flax. According to Wikipedia

Phormium tenax (harakeke in Māori, New Zealand flax) 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 meters long, from which arises a much taller flowering shoot, with dramatic yellow or red flowers.

The fibre has been widely used since the arrival of Māori to New Zealand, originally in Māori traditional textiles and also in rope and sail making after the arrival of Europeans up until at least WWII . . . Read more . . .

There are also different cultivars which have different coloured leaves including one with bronze coloured leaves (probably the one you have in your garden, Reggie). See the Wikipedia link for more information.

Thank you to everyone who helped to try and identify the plant!


Categories: Nature/Environment


I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at and (my photoblog)


Subscribe to the Notes from Africa RSS and Twitter feeds to receive updates.

8 Comments on “Mystery plant a mystery no more”

  1. December 10, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    that´s the great thing about Internet, you have help to find the answers you need!!!
    Congrats Sherlock!!!

  2. December 10, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    Cool, Lisa. Glad someone could help–two people, in fact. Hope you have a great weekend, my friend!

    • December 11, 2011 at 7:48 am #

      Yes, it’s very cool that somebody could identify it for me. The two people were “collaborators”! 🙂

  3. December 11, 2011 at 2:42 am #

    glad that’s off your mind. the internet -a wonderful tool eh? continue…

    • December 11, 2011 at 7:48 am #

      Yes, I’m so glad that I know now, but I’ll probably find something else to obsess about soon! 😉

  4. December 14, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    It looks so much like one of my absolute favourites: The kangaroo paw plant..

    • December 14, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

      I’ve had a couple of Australians tell me that it reminds them of the Kangaroo Paw plant. Then it turned out to come from your part of the world . . . well, close to anyway. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: