FLAX, NEW ZEALAND, a valuable fiber quite different from common flax, and obtained from the leaf of an endogenous, instead of the stem of an exogenous plant. The plant yielding it is phopminin often' called N. Z. F., and sometimes flax lily and flax bush. belongs to the natural order lili (tem, and is a perennial plant, a native of New Zealand and Norfolk island; its leaves resemble those of an iris, are from 2 to 6 ft long and 1 to 2 or 3 in. broad. The flowers are produced in a tall branched panicle; are numerous, brownish yellow, not very beautiful; the fruit is a three-cornered capsule with numerous compressed jet-black seeds. The fiber of the leaves is both very fine and very strong, and was used by the New Zealanders, before their country was discovered by Europeans, for making dresses, ropes, twine, mats, cloth, etc. N. Z. F. is imported into Britain for making twine and ropes; and the plant is cultivated in its native coun try. Its cultivation has also been attempted in some parts of Europe; but the winters'
of Europe, except in the s., arc too cold for it. To obtain the fiber, the leaves arc cut when they have attained their full size,•and usually macerated for a few days in water. But the New Zealanders procure the fiber in its greatest perfection, very long and slen der, shining like silk, by a more laborious process, and without maceration, removing the epidermis from the leaf when newly cut, separating the fibers by the thumb-nails, and then more perfectly by a comb.
The roots are purgative, diuretic, sudorific, and expectorant; a good substitute for sarsaparilla.—The leaves, Isrhen cut near the root, exude a viscid juice, which becomes an edible gum.--The New Zealanders prepare a sweet beverage from the flowers.