Phormium tenax (New Zealand Flax) - Norfolk Island native?

  • Phormium tenax (New Zealand flax) was one of the first plants found on Norfolk Island by Cook’s expedition in 1774, and its potential value to the British navy was considered so significant that it appears to be one of the main reasons Norfolk Island (lat 29° 02’S; long 167° 57’E), about 780 km north of New Zealand, was colonised in March 1788. Phormium tenax has always been considered native to Norfolk Island, despite the realisation that Polynesian settlers had been there before the British. The absence of any records of it on nearby Phillip Island until 1967 however, contrasts with its reported abundance on Norfolk Island in the 1700s. If Phormium had been present on Norfolk earlier than about 15,000 years ago it would be expected to have colonised Phillip Island, particularly in habitats similar to those it occupied on Norfolk, because the two islands (now 6 km apart) were then part of a single, much larger island. The absence of Phormium pollen from fossilised pollen recently collected on Norfolk Island suggested to researchers that flax had been introduced to Norfolk Island by Polynesian settlers and should therefore not be regarded as native or indigenous. The lack of any recorded distribution of Phormium on Phillip Island before 1967 and its distribution there in 1978 provide evidence reinforcing this conclusion.

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Author:Peter Coyne
Parent Title (English):Cunninghamia : a journal of plant ecology for eastern Australia
Publisher:Mount Annan Botanic Garden, The Administration Officer
Place of publication:Mount Annan, NSW
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2013/04/12
Year of first Publication:2009
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2013/04/12
Page Number:4
First Page:167
Last Page:170
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 58 Pflanzen (Botanik) / 580 Pflanzen (Botanik)
Sammlungen:Sammlung Biologie / Sondersammelgebiets-Volltexte
Zeitschriften / Jahresberichte:Cunninghamia : A Journal of Plant Ecology for Eastern Australia / Cunninghamia : A Journal of Plant Ecology for Eastern Australia, Volume 11, Issue 2 (2009)
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht