phormium

World English Dictionary
phormium (ˈfɔːmɪəm)
 
n
any plant of the New Zealand bulbous genus Phormium, with leathery evergreen leaves and red or yellow flowers in panicles
 
[New Latin, from Greek phormos a basket (from a use for the fibres)]

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Encyclopedia Britannica
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phormium

(species Phormium tenax), a plant of the day lily family, Hemerocallidaceae, and its fibre, belonging to the leaf fibre group. The plant is native to New Zealand, where the fibre, sometimes called New Zealand "hemp," or "flax," has been used since ancient times for cordage, fabrics, and baskets. It has been grown in southern Ireland, mainly as an ornamental plant, since 1798 and was later introduced to parts of Europe; commercial plantings were started in St. Helena, the Azores, Australia, southern Africa, and Japan. In the 1930s cultivation was established in the South American countries of Brazil, Chile, and Argentina

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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