Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: non-flowering and flowering

with 14 comments

Even if that pōhutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) wasn’t blooming at Cape Reinga on February 14, 2017, several of the flax plants (Phormium tenax) there were. Now you can say you got some flowers on Valentine’s Day.

The Wikipedia article about this genus notes that “Phormium tenax flowers have the same curvature as the beak of the nectar eating Tui.” You can verify that in a photograph from our 2015 trip to New Zealand.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 14, 2018 at 4:51 AM

14 Responses

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  1. This is a magical plant… should be like that. So beautiful, Thank you, have a nice Valentine’s Day, Love, nia


    February 14, 2018 at 5:49 AM

    • When the Māori settled New Zealand, they did find this plant to be, if not magical, certainly very useful for making clothing and baskets. Photographers and viewers of photographs are free to add the magic.

      Happy Valentine’s Day.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2018 at 5:58 AM

  2. Thanks for the flowers Steve 🙂 Thankfully I don’t have to travel to NZ to see Phormium as they grow very well here in Cornwall. Unfortunately no Tui birds though.


    February 14, 2018 at 6:27 AM

    • You’re welcome for the Valentine’s Day bouquet.

      You’re the second person recently to mention having grown Phormium outside NZ (the other was in the United States). He also could claim no tūī. Yet another reason for a visit to Aotearoa.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2018 at 6:45 AM

  3. I thought I remembered the pōhutukawa, and when I saw its red blossoms, I decided it might be the tree that you’ve not yet seen in bloom. Given the mythology associated with this particular tree, I’m not surprised it hasn’t bloomed. It has other important functions in the world.

    A single stem can be wonderfully elegant, and your Valentine’s Day offering certainly is that. Thanks for marking the day in a unique way, as you so often do.


    February 14, 2018 at 8:00 AM

    • Once again you show your good memory. The British settlers called the pōhutukawa the New Zealand Christmas tree because of the dense red flowers that appear in December. If it weren’t for the wedding we attended in NZ a year ago, we might have chosen December for the visit so we could’ve seen these trees flowering.

      As for doing things in a distinctive way, let me say that if uniquity were ubiquity it wouldn’t be uniquity.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2018 at 8:11 AM

      • Which reminds me of a favorite, silly joke from grade school, revised slightly for a photographer:

        “How do you capture a unique image?”

        “U nique up on it.”


        February 14, 2018 at 8:15 AM

  4. Love that minimalism in the third picture! 🙂


    February 14, 2018 at 9:46 AM

  5. Wow, it is THAT tree. I read about it earlier. That species happens to be an excellent street tree in coastal regions because it is surprisingly complaisant with pavement, and tolerant to coastal weather.


    February 15, 2018 at 11:36 PM

  6. Flax flowers always look fab with the sea in the background 🙂


    February 16, 2018 at 6:53 PM

    • On our first trip all the flax flowers we saw had dried out. Finally on last year’s trip we found a few that were still red. Even better, as you say, that these stood against the sea.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 16, 2018 at 8:54 PM

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