Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for March 20th, 2015

When isn’t flax flax?

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Flax Plant by Tasman Sea 5007

Flax isn’t flax in New Zealand, where people traditionally use the term not for a member of the Linaceae (think linen), i.e. flax family, but for the members of a genus of plants in the Xanthorrhoeaceae that the Māori called harakeke and whose fibers they turned into clothing, mats, nets, and various other useful things. By far the most common species of New Zealand flax is Phormium tenax (think tenacious), and not a day of my stay there passed without my seeing it, usually in many places. Partly that’s because of its frequent natural occurrence, and partly because people plant it and various cultivars as ornamentals.

Today’s picture is from the shore of the Tasman Sea—note once again the color of the water—on the west coast of the South Island on February 17th. That was unfortunately much too late for me to see any of the plant’s flowers, but its characteristically upright seed capsules were very much in evidence everywhere I traveled in the country.

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Happy vernal equinox about 12 hours from now to those of you north of the Equator, and happy autumnal equinox to those south of that great circle.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 20, 2015 at 5:45 AM

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