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Phormium ‘Cultivar name’

20 Mar 2005

General information

Cultivar name:

Phormium ‘Cultivar name’ (Synonyms included here). (AGM) after a name indicates that the cultivar has received a Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit.


Name of originator, location and date of introduction.


Comments regarding the source and validity of the name.


Cultivars are derived from Phormium tenax, Phormium cookianum or from hybrids between the two species. If the parentage is known it is given here.

Leaf colour

Colour group:

There is a very large range of colours in Phormium leaves and the colour varies with the growing conditions, age of the plant and season. In an attempt at classification, plants have been placed into one of the following colour groups.
Green The basic leaf colour is green without any variegation although the margins and midrib are often a different colour.
Brown This includes all non-variegated plants whose leaf colour is some shade of brown, brownish-red, greyish-brown, purplish-brown or black. (i.e. darker than green.)
Yellow variegated Plants that have white, yellow, cream or gold stripes. The background colour is green.
Red variegated Plants that have red, purple or pink stripes in the leaves. (Not just on the margins or midrib) The other colour can be green, greyish-green or brown.
Brown variegated Green leaves with brown or greyish-brown stripes.

Upper surface:

The colour of the upper or inner (adaxial) side of a typical leaf.
Images in this section are leaf scans are made by placing a leaf onto a flat-bed scanner and scanning a 2cm length.

Apricot Queen - Upper surface
Example leaf scan of ‘Apricot Queen’

Lower surface:

The colour of the lower or outer (abaxial) side of a typical leaf.

Apricot Queen - Lower surface

Example leaf scan of ‘Apricot Queen’


In some cases we have tried to identify the colours more accurately by referring to the Royal Horticultural Society Colour Chart. A number in brackets after the colour name indicates the RHS Colour Chart sample that we think most closely resembles the colour of the plant. We have found most difficulty in matching the bronze-brown-green colours to the RHS samples. The bloom on the lower surface of many leaves also makes colour matching difficult.


Growth form

Shape group:

Upright Plants in this group have leaves that are rigid and upright. The tips of the older leaves may arch slightly and are often split at the ends.
Spreading Generally smaller growing types where the leaves are less rigid but still tend to grow mainly upwards and only arch at the tips.
Arching Softer leaves that are strongly arching and often touch the ground at the tips.
Twisted There are a number of cultivars that have relatively small and rigid leaves that tend to be strongly keeled, wavy edged or slightly twisted.
Dwarf Plants that have distinctly dwarf leaves that tend to grow in a dense cluster. Occasionally there are larger leaves among the small ones.

Leaf length:

Length (cm) of the largest leaf from ground level to leaf tip. This indicates the approximate height of the plant but when the leaves are arching the actual height will be less than the leaf length. The width of a plant increases with age as new leaves are produced.

All 'size' measurements are made on plants growing in our garden or in pots unless otherwise stated. Many of our plants are young so will not have reached their mature size but the data will be updated in due course. When we get the opportunity to measure established plants that are accurately named, this data will be added.

Leaf width:

Maximum width of leaf (cm).


Any other features of the plant not covered above.

Flowers and fruit


Description and measurements of flowers or fruits.


Pictures (Click to enlarge)


Photographs will be displayed at 'thumbnail' size here but can be enlarged by clicking on the image..


Published descriptions


This section contains descriptions that we have seen published in magazines, books, or sales catalogues. Wherever possible, the first description is taken from the Checklist of Phormium Cultivars, Heenan.P. (1991).


Key to the source codes:

HEE = Heenan, P., Checklist of Phormium Cultivars, Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture, 1991

MET = Metcalf, L.J., New Zealand Trees and Shrubs, Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd., Latest revision 2000

SMG = San Marcos Growers, California -

BUR = Burncoose Nurseries, Cornwall -

BLO = Bloomz, New Zealand -

DIA = Diack's Nurseries, New Zealand -

MON = Monterey Bay Nurseries -

HER = Heronswood Nurseries -

PLD = Plant Delights - Plant Delights Nursery, Inc.

ART = Article from web, Plant Primer -



HOR = Hornbeck, B., New New Zealand Flaxes, Pacific Horticulture 56(3), 1994

MIS = Miscellaneous references. Source quoted after the description.