Harakeke (NZ Flax)

Phormium tenax


Medicinal Uses

The gum from the base of the leaves was applied to cuts and sores. When smoothed directly onto a burn, the likelihood of blistering was minimal. For constipation, the roots of the flax were scraped and cleaned, and then boiled and consumed. The leaves of the flax can also be put to use as splints for holding fractures, and to bind wounds together. The sticky gum is used as an external treatment for boils, toothache, wounds, burns, eczema and scalds. The gum was also be used as an internal treatment for dysentery. Leaves can be used as a dressing for broken bones.
Pounded leaves can be used as a dressing. The juice of the root acts as a disinfectant for wounds. A poultice of the root was used to treat intestinal worms, ringworm and constipation - I don't know quite how, but there you have it.

Other Uses

One of the most widely used plants by the Maori people was NZ Flax. It was used for clothing, shelter, hunting, to make baskets and ropes, not to mention it`s extensive medicinal repertoire. Harakeke is widely used for weaving mats, clothing, bags, and bowls. Once it was used as durable ropes for ships. Harakeke has also been made into bird snares, fishing lines, and woven sails. Juice of the root has been used as ink where the gum was used to seal letters. Floats and rafts have been made from the flower stalks. Nectar from the flowers was used to sweeten drinks and food such as para ti. Today flax derivatives are being sold in many different forms such as oils, soaps and creams.