Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: colors at Elliot Bay

with 35 comments

A year and a day ago we visited Elliot Bay on the east side of New Zealand’s North Island, as you saw last time in two picture of inherently low-toned patterns on the beach. Today’s post shows you that we also saw colorful things there.

Flax (Phormium tenax) turning yellow


Magenta seaweed


Patterns in a vertical rock face bordering the beach

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 11, 2018 at 4:43 AM

35 Responses

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  1. beautiful colors and textures in these shots –


    February 11, 2018 at 5:12 AM

    • They are. (Sorry for the delayed reply. I just discovered your comment in WordPress spam folder.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2018 at 6:17 AM

  2. Love the magenta seaweed 🙂


    February 11, 2018 at 6:27 AM

  3. The magenta seaweed was a new one to me. Amazing.


    February 11, 2018 at 9:18 AM

  4. I especially love the image of the rock face. What a great find to discover so much color on the beach!


    February 11, 2018 at 9:38 AM

    • I’m glad you mentioned the rock face. I wasn’t sure how many other people would appreciate it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 11, 2018 at 9:49 AM

  5. I used to grow New Zealand flax years ago.


    February 11, 2018 at 11:53 AM

    • I’ve never heard of anyone growing it over here. Have other people you know done so?

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 11, 2018 at 11:55 AM

      • Of course! It is very popular here. I did not want to grow it because it is not compatible with our main crops, but a few of our clients were having difficulty obtaining enough of it. Although I do not like fads, and this fad is now dying out, I do like New Zealand flax. It does well here.


        February 11, 2018 at 11:57 AM

        • Thanks for the info. I had no idea there had been a vogue for NZ flax here. Unlike you, I’m not a gardener, so until our first visit to NZ in 2015 I’d never even heard of that kind of flax (which of course isn’t flax as botanists know it from the family Linaceae).

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 11, 2018 at 12:13 PM

          • I have actually never seen flax. Some know the agaves that provide the fiber for Mexican linen as flax.


            February 11, 2018 at 12:15 PM

            • Central Texas has several species in the genus Linum, including this one:


              Steve Schwartzman

              February 11, 2018 at 4:37 PM

              • Oh, the ‘real’ flax. I remember reading about flax in Texas while in Oklahoma, but have never actually seen it. It is odd that the same common name applies to such vastly different plants. I would guess that it has something to do with New Zealand flax and agaves being useful for linen.


                February 11, 2018 at 8:27 PM

                • Yes, you’ve got it. In many cases people have named new plants after others that look like familiar ones from back home. In this case, however, when the British colonized New Zealand they called Phormium tenax flax because the native inhabitants used its fibers in the same way that people back home used the fibers of the plant known in English as flax.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 11, 2018 at 9:20 PM

            • I should add that people here plant agaves but they’re not native in central Texas.

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 11, 2018 at 4:38 PM

              • Same here, although most of the old fashioned species are too big and too dangerous for small home gardens. Some of the yuccas are more popular because they are not so nasty.


                February 11, 2018 at 8:29 PM

                • In central Texas we have several species of native yuccas, including an endemic one that grows only in the hill country that includes the western side of Austin. The plant is called twistleaf yucca for the way its leaves typically twist:


                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 11, 2018 at 9:25 PM

                • Oh, yes. I am familiar with Yucca rupicola. For a while, I had all but one of the fifty or so known specie of Yucca, including the weird epiphytic Yucca lacandonica and the extremely rare Yucca necopina from Texas. As you know, many are considered to be varieties of other specie and so on. Yucca is the most promiscuous genus I know of!


                  February 11, 2018 at 9:34 PM

                • Ah, promiscuity of the botanical sort.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 11, 2018 at 9:43 PM

  6. This is a great set: three textures, three colors, and three patterns. The webbing on the rock face is particularly interesting; it looks like misplaced sea fan. It seems the vertical lines are a combination of rock cracking/discoloration and plant growth, but the effect is interesting.

    I’ve never seen magenta seaweed. I found an article about red seaweed washing up on New Zealand beaches in the same way that Sargasso weed does here. They deal with it the same way, too, bringing out the heavy equipment to scoop it up.


    February 11, 2018 at 11:53 AM

    • I wish now that I’d spent a little time investigating the vertical rocks to see how much was cracking and how much plant growth. When questions have arisen about Austin pictures I’ve sometimes gone back to find answers. Can’t easily do that in this case, alas.

      I described the seaweed as magenta for lack of a better term. I wonder now if the seaweed is Pterocladia lucida, from which people extract agar:


      I noticed in the 2016 feature you linked to that people hadn’t identified the species or determined whether it’s native or carried in from elsewhere. By the time of our visit in 2017, we didn’t see any large masses of this kind of seaweed, only individual bits.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 11, 2018 at 12:09 PM

  7. I am caught up again! You visit some amazing places, Steve, and find some wonderful abstract art in Nature. I’ve never seen seaweed that color. Thank you!

    Lavinia Ross

    February 11, 2018 at 6:00 PM

  8. Wonderful colours Steve .. 🙂


    February 14, 2018 at 7:45 PM

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