New Zealand Flax

New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax)

New Zealand Flax Flowers. 

Hawaii Pacific Weed Risk Assessment: 8- High Risk

Regulatory Status: None

Prevention and Control Category: MoMISC Target Species. BIISC EDRR Species

Report this plant on Molokaʻi and Hawaiʻi Island



  • Phormium tenax is a perennial plant that reaches around 2 meters  (6 feet) tall, with smooth, leathery, sword-shaped leaves that grow clumped in a fan shape. They produce red and orange flowers.

  • This species is native to New Zealand, and was introduced as an ornamental in the late 1800’s. It was introduced to Molokaʻi in late 1960s-early 1970s. Phormium tenax crowds out other vegetation and blocks sunlight, making it hard for native plants to flourish. This species produce as many as 10,000 seeds per flower that easily spread with the wind, as well as the ability to produce clones, which allows it to spread quickly. It can naturalize in native high-elevation ʻōʻhia-uluhe rainforest.


  • Kauaʻi, O’ahu, Maui, Big Island: Present in landscaped areas.

  • Molokaʻi: Present in native high-elevation ʻōʻhia-uluhe rainforest in Kamakou Reserve, Puʻu Kauwa, Molokaʻi Forest. MoMISC is working to control this pest where possible.

What you can do:

If you see this species, call 643-PEST and/or visit Don’t plant this plant in your yard. Replace New Zealand Flax landscape plants with a native like ʻukiʻuki (Dianella sandwicensis).

For more information, see