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Phormium references

06 Oct 2005

This page: Books - Magazine articles - Internet links


The references in each group are arranged in alphabetical order of the author's name. References relating to flax crafts are given on the New Zealand Flax page.



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Anon. (1871), Catalogue of the Samples of Fibres and Manufactured Articles prepared from The Phormium Tenax: Exhibited by the Flax Commissioners in the Colonial Museum, Wellington, August 1981, Thomas W. McKenzie, Printer, Willis Street, Wellington, New Zealand.

A fascinating list of Phormium products and prices at the end of the 19th century.

Bell, E.F. and Young, F. (1842). Reasons for promoting the cultivation of the New Zealand Flax, Smith, Elder and Co., Cornhill, London.

The authors outline the economic arguments for developing the N.Z Flax industry in New Zealand and the possible benefits to both the "colony" of New Zealand and the "mother-country".

Cave, Y. and Paddison, V. (1999). The Gardener's Encyclopaedia of New Zealand Native Plants, Random House, Auckland, New Zealand. ISBN 1 86962 043 7

An excellent book on New Zealand plants. There are a number of photographs of phormiums, brief descriptions of the two species and a list of cultivars classified by colour. 

Hector, Sir James (1872). Phormium tenax as a fibrous plant, Colonial Museum and Geological Survey Department, Wellington, New Zealand. (2nd Edition, 1889)

A classic treatise on the distribution, structure, cultivation and commercial uses of Phormium tenax at the end of the 19th century.

Heenan, P.B. (1991). Checklist of Phormium Cultivars, Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture, Lincoln, New Zealand. ISBN 0 9597756 1 7

This booklet gives a complete list of Phormium cultivars known in 1991 including traditional names used by the Maoris and those in horticultural use. The current registrar for Phormium cultivars is Lawrie Metalf at The Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture.

Metcalf, L.J. (2000). New Zealand Trees and Shrubs, Reed Books, Birkenhead, New Zealand. ISBN 0 7900 0662 6

On Pages 322-330 there is a section on Phormiums with botanical descriptions of a number of cultivars and a short key to some of the older cultivars. There is also some useful information on pests and diseases.

Moore, L.B. and Edgar, E. (1970). Flora of New Zealand, Volume II, A.R. Shearer, Government Printer, Wellington, New Zealand.

Contains a botanical description of the genus Phormium and the two species.

Neville, Indira (2000). Harakeke - Flax, Curriculum Concepts 2000, New Plymouth, New Zealand. ISBN 1 877253 14 6

A set of project ideas and worksheets for use in schools Year 5-8. There are information sheets on the structure of flax plants, Maori uses and traditions, flax weaving and the organisms associated with flax plants.

Scheele, S. (1952). Insect Pests and Diseases of Harakeke, Manaaki Whenua Press, Linclon, New Zealand, 1997. ISBN 0 478 09316 0

A description of the insects and diseases commonly associated with harakeke (Phormium tenax) and suggestions for methods of control of the most harmful ones. The booklet is well illustrated and also gives information on traditional methods of control.

Scheele, S. and Walls, G. (1994). Harakeke: the Rene Orchiston collection, Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln, New Zealand. ISBN 0 478 04507 7

A catalogue of Maori flax cultivars collected and maintained in cultivation by Rene Orchiston. The booklet includes descriptions of about 50 flaxes and an account of their traditional uses.



Magazine articles


Beckett, K. (1992). The New Zealand flaxes, Garden (London) 117 (12), 578-589.

An introduction to phormiums as garden plants with information on their history, uses and cultivation. There are brief descriptions of some of the varieties available to gardeners and a number of illustrations.

Cheek, R. (1979). New Zealand Flax, Garden (London) 104, 101-106.

An evaluation of the Phormium species and cultivars available in Britain. This article describes the introduction and cultivation of Phormiums and includes a useful table of the Phormium cultivars available at that time.

Dunford, C. (2003). Phormiums, Gardening Which?, May 2003, 198-201.

An general introduction to Phormiums as garden plants. The article includes photographs of a number of different varieties in garden settings and close-ups of leaves.

Hayter, T. (1995). Phormium tenax, Hebe News, 10(3), 20-24.

This article gives a brief history of the uses of New Zealand Flax and its introduction to Europe. It also contains notes on taxonomy and cultivation. A number of cultivars are briefly described and there is a list of nurseries that were supplying phormiums in 1995.

Hindmarsh, G. (1999). Flax - The Enduring Fibre, New Zealand Geographic, No. 42, April - June 1999, 20-53.

An interesting and well illustrated article on the history and uses of New Zealand flax from the earliest records to modern times. It includes information on the animals that live on flax and a poster illustrating some of the traditional cultivars and their uses.

Holliday, C. (2000). Phormiums - Making bold statements, Gardens Illustrated, November 2000, 60-67.

A good introduction to the use of phormiums as garden plants with sections on cultivation, propagation and some references. There are quite a lot of photographs but several of these are 'artistic' (e.g. out of focus) rather than botanical.

Holliday, C. (2000). Triple Winner, Garden Inspirations, ? ,39-40.

An article by Christopher Holliday, (Phormium National Collection® holder). describing the qualities of Phormium cookianum subsp. hookeri 'Tricolour'.

Hornback, B. (1994). New New Zealand Flaxes, Pacific Horticulture, Vol.55, No.3, 33-41.

An detailed account of the origin and use of phormiums in gardens. There are brief descriptions of popular cultivars together with a number of excellent photographs.

Longville, T. (2000). Cornwall in Cumbria, Exotic and Greenhouse Gardening No.4, Oct/Nov 2000, 17-20.

An general description of Chrisopher Holliday's garden, Charney Well, Cumbria.

McBride-Whitehead, V. (1998). Phormiums of the future, The Garden, January 1998,  42-45.

A very interesting and well illustrated article dealing mainly with the cultivars produced by Margaret Jones, Tauranga, New Zealand, one of the world's leading hybridisers of New Zealand flax.

Stuart,D. (2000). High on low maintenance, Garden Inspirations, September 2000, 32-37.

An account of Chrisopher Holliday's garden, Charneywell, with special reference to his NCCPG National Collection® of Phormiums.



Internet links


Collection of Phormiums, www.arcadian-archives.com/phornium.htm

A brief account of a visit to the garden of Christopher Holliday, holder of one of the NCCPG National Collections® of Phormium.

Fanatical about Phorm and Foliage, www.ngs.org.uk/christopher_holliday.htm

Christopher Holliday, Phormium NCCPG National Collection® holder, describes his interest in this group of plants.

Heronswood Nursery, Washington, USA, http://www.heronswood.com/catalog/catsearch?zG3t7FdD;0:100;66

The nursery lists 13 different phormiums and there are pictures of most of them on the site.

Monterey Bay Nursery, California, www.montereybaynsy.com/index.html

This excellent nursery site has numerous photographs of garden plants including a large number of phormiums.

N.Z. Flax Hybridizers, Tauranga New Zealand. www.aotearoa.co.uk/Pages/NZFlax/NZFlax.htm

Gives their 1999 stock list of Phormium cultivars, and a dated list of the cultivars released by this company from 1978 to 1997.

New Zealand Plant Finder, http://www.plantfinder.co.nz/db_results.asp

A search for phormiums reveals a large number of varieties that are available from nurseries in New Zealand.

Phormiaceae J.G. Agardh,

A botanical description of the Family Phormiaceae, Including Dianellaceae Salisb.

Problem profiles - Phormium mealybug (Balanococcus diminutus),

Gives a brief description of this pest but does not suggest any methods of control.

RHS Award of Garden Merit, http://www.rhs.org.uk/databases/Award2.asp?crit=phormium

A list of the phormiums that have considered worthy of merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.

RHS Plant Finder, http://www.rhs.org.uk/RHSPLANTFINDER/plantfinder.asp

Search on-line for plants available in the UK.

San Marcos Growers Inc., California. http://www.smgrowers.com/info/flax.asp

A large wholesale nursery that sells a wide range of phormiums. The web site contains a lot of information on phormium cultivars and their history. There are also sections on cultivation and a large number of illustrations.

St Helena - New Zealand Flax, Paul Carroll, February 2000, http://guest.btinternet.com/~sa_sa/st_helena/st_helena_flax.html

A brief account of the two Phormium species with reference to the use of the plants and their products on St Helena island.

The New Zealand Flax Milling Industry, Ian Matheson

A brief account of the history and development of the flax milling industry in New Zealand.



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