New Zealand Flax

New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax)



  • Plant to 2 m (6 ft) tall, with smooth, leathery, sword-shaped leaves that grow clumped in a fan shape
  • Native to New Zealand, introduced as an ornamental in the late 1800’s, introduced to Molokai in late 1960s-early 1970s


  • Crowds out other vegetation and blocks sunlight
  • Plants may have as many as 10,000 seeds/flower that spread with the wind
  • Also produces clones, which sprout up and spread out
  • Known pest on St. Helena Island

In Hawaii:

  • Kauai: Present in landscaped areas.
  • Oahu: Present in landscaped areas.
  • Maui: Present in landscaped areas.
  • Molokai: Present in native high-elevation ohia-uluhe rainforest in Kamakou Reserve, Puu Kauwa, Molokai Forest. MoMISC is working to control this pest where possible.
  • Big Island: Present in landscaped areas.

For more information, see: