Local flora: Harakeke – New Zealand flax

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Quick facts from DOC (https://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/native-plants/harakeke-flax/)

  • Flax is unique to New Zealand and is one of our most ancient plant species.
  • Flax bushes will often support a large community of animals, providing shelter and an abundant food resource. (Ours harbour slugs, snails, weta, spiders and who knows what else)
  • Tui, bellbirds/ korimako, saddlebacks/tīeke, short tailed bats/pekapeka, geckos and several types of insects enjoy nectar from the flax flower.
  • Flax snails, a rare land snail living only in the Far North, often shelter under flax bushes. These snails don’t eat any part of the flax, but rather they munch on fallen leaves from native broadleaved trees.
  • Harakeke was the name given to this plant by Māori.
  • The first European traders called it ‘flax’ because its fibres were similar to that of true flax found in other parts of the world.
  • Although we still call it flax today, harakeke is really a lily. (Who knew?)

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