Phormium cookianum subsp. cookianum
mountain flax, wharariki
Phormium cookianum Le Jol., Phormium colensoi Hook.f., P. forsterianum nom. nud.
Vascular – Native
Herbs - Monocots
The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.
2n = 32
Current conservation status
The threat classification status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2017 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS) – more information about this can be found on the NZTCS website This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2012 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: By Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, John W. Barkla, Shannel P. Courtney, Paul D. Champion, Leon R. Perrie, Sarah M. Beadel, Kerry A. Ford, Ilse Breitwieser, Ines Schönberger, Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls, Peter B. Heenan and Kate Ladley. Please note, threat classifications are often suggested by authors when publications fall between NZTCS assessment periods – a suggested threat classification status has not been assessed by the NZTCS panel.
2017 | Not Threatened
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Endemic. Scarce in North Island where only known from high alpine situations in the Tararua Ranges, and possible elsewhere within the central axial ranges. Common in the South Island, in subalpine/alpine situations.
Strictly confined to subalpine, alpine situations.
Wetland plant indicator status rating
Information derived from the revised national wetland plant list prepared to assist councils in delineating and monitoring wetlands (Clarkson et al., 2021 Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research Contract Report LC3975 for Hawke’s Bay Regional Council). The national plant list categorises plants by the extent to which they are found in wetlands and not ‘drylands’. The indicator status ratings are OBL (obligate wetland), FACW (facultative wetland), FAC (facultative), FACU (facultative upland), and UPL (obligate upland).
FACU: Facultative Upland
Occasionally is a hydrophyte but usually occurs in uplands (non-wetlands).
Stout liliaceous herb, 0.6-1(-2) m tall. Leaves numerous, arising from fan-like bases. Individual leaves “paddle-shaped”, erect, stiff, rarely decurved or pendulous 0.6-1(-1.5) x 20-80 mm, glaucous. Lamina margin, entire, somewhat thickened and distinctly pigmented by a dark, rather broad often encircling band 3-5 mm wide. Inflorescence (0.8-)1(-2) m tall, somewhat woody and fleshy when fresh, long persistent, drying charcoal grey or black, with the fibrous interior becoming progressively more exposed. Peduncle 20-30 mm diam., inclined, dark red-green, glabrous. Flowers 25-40 mm long, tubular, dull pink or yellow; tips of inner tepals markedly recurved. Ovary erect. Capsules 100-120 mm long, dark green, trigonous in cross-section, pendulous, tapering toward tip, twisted, initially fleshy becoming papery with age, long persistent. Seeds 8-10 x 4-5 mm, black, elliptic, flat and plate-like, margins frilled or twisted.
Distinguished from Phormium tenax by the pendulous, twisted capsules. Differing from subsp. hookeri by the much shorter, broader, erect leaves which have a dark coloured band extending in from the leaf lamina some 3-5 mm, and often encircling the entire leaf blade. Ecologically subsp. cookianum seems to be confined to subalpine alpine habitats, where it mainly grows in seepages, along stream sides or on the margins of bogs. Occasionally it is sympatric with subsp. hookeri.
(September-) October-November (-January)
(November-) December (-March)
Very easy from fresh seed. Most commonly grown by the division of rooted fans from established plants. Slow to establish and slow growing.
phormium: Basket or basketwork
cookianum: After Captain Cook
Where To Buy
Uncommon in cultivation.
Fact sheet prepared by P.J. de Lange for NZPCN (1 June 2013)
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Phormium cookianum subsp. cookianum Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/phormium-cookianum-subsp-cookianum/ (Date website was queried)