What is the Difference Between Phormium and Cordyline

The main difference between Phormium and Cordyline is that Phormium leaves are thicker, all coming out from the base of the plant in a kind of linear, bulbous sheath, whereas Cordyline leaves are thin and occur in a cluster around a central stem.

Phormium and Cordyline are two genera of the order Asparagales. Usually, they are monocot, flowering plants that are evergreen and have sward-shaped leaves, approximately, 2 feet long. They also have single or multiple colors in leaves. Both are endogenous to New Zealand.

Key Areas Covered

  1. What is Phormium
    • Definition, Characteristics, Importance
  2. What is Cordyline
    • Definition, Characteristics, Importance
  3. Similarities Between Phormium and Cordyline
    • Outline of Common Features
  4. Difference Between Phormium and Cordyline
    • Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Cordyline, PhormiumPhormium vs Cordyline - Comparison Summary

What is Phormium

Phormium is a genus of the family Asphodelaceae. It has only two known species, and both are native to New Zealand. They are commonly known as New Zealand flax or flax lily. Moreover,  Phormium is a herbaceous perennial monocot with thick, sward-shaped leaves.

Compare Phormium and Cordyline - What's the difference?

Figure 1: Phormium

This plant can grow up to 3 meters and Phormium flowers are borne in a clump that is tube-like. The flowers turn bright red or yellow at maturity and produce a large amount of nectar to attract pollinators. Furthermore, the two known species of Phormium are P. colensoi and P. tenax. They are also commercially important as both ornamental plants and obtain fibers. Its fibres belong to the leaf fibres group. The leaf fibers are generally hard, but the leaf fibers of monocot plants are coarse.

What is Cordyline

Cordyline is a genus under the family Asparagaceae with about 15 known species. It has also originated from New Zealand, Eastern Australia, and Southeastern Asia, and one species is found in South America.

Phormium and Cordyline

Figure 2: Cordyline

Usually, Cordyline has an enlarged ground stem or rhizome roasted to extract sugar. Generally, some of the species of Cordyline are ornamental such as C. fruticosa and C. australis. Others are important as medicinal plants or food-related items.

Similarities Between Phormium and Cordyline

  • Phormium and Cordyline are two genera of the order Asparagales.
  • Moreover, both are indigenous to New Zealand
  • They are monocot, flowering plants that are evergreen and have sward-shaped leaves, approximately, 2 feet long.
  • They have single or multiple colors in leaves.
  • In addition, both are ornamental plants.

Difference Between Phormium and Cordyline

Definition

Phormium refers to a genus of herbs with rigid sword-shaped leaves and red or yellow flowers on a leafless scape while Cordyline refers to a genus of tropical Old World plants, having a creeping rhizome.

Family

Moreover, Phormium belongs to the family Asphodelaceae while Cordyline belongs to the family Asparagaceae.

Native to

Phormium is native to New Zealand while Cordyline is native to New Zealand, Eastern Australia, and Southeastern Asia.

Number of Species

Usually, the genus phormium contains 2 species while the genus Cordyline contains 15 species.

Common Name

The common name of Phormium is New Zealand flax or flax lily while the common name for Cordyline is Ti plant.

Leaves

Phormium leaves are thicker, all produced from the base of the plant in a kind of linear, bulbous sheath, while Cordyline leaves are thin and formed in a cluster around a central stem.

Growth

Phormium is herbaceous perennials growing up to 3 meters in New Zealand although it is 1.5-2 meters in the UK while Cordyline is a widely branched tree with a stout trunk, in northern European countries they grow up to a height of 4-5 meters tall, however, in their native habitat they can achieve a height of 20 meters.

Commercial Use

Phormium is an ornamental plant and also its leaves are commercially useful to obtain fibers. Meanwhile, Cordyline is a medicinal plant.

Conclusion

In brief, Phormium and Cordyline are two evergreen plant genera of the order Asparagales. Generally, these plants are monocot, flowering plants that are evergreen and have sward-shaped leaves, approximately, 2 feet long. Phormium has thicker leaves produced from the base of the plant while the thinner leaves of Cordyline form a cluster around the central stem. When considering the height, Phormium is 3 meters tall while Cordyline is 20 meters tall. Therefore, the main differences between Phormium and Cordyline are their leaves and their heights.

References:
  1. Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, July 29). Phormium. Wikipedia. Retrieved September 2, 2022.
  2. Wikimedia Foundation. (2021, July 13). Cordyline. Wikipedia. Retrieved September 2, 2022.
Image Courtesy:
  1. NZflaxPiha02 ” By Kahuroa – Own Work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
  2. Cordyline terminalis dsc03651” By David Monniaux – Own Work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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