Linum usitatissimum Linn., Sp. Pl. 277. 1753. Boiss. F1. Or. 1: 860. 1867; Hook. f., l.c.; T. Cooke, l.c.; Bamber, l.c. 275; Davis, l.c. 448; Ockenden & Walters, l.c. 209.
Annual herb, 20 cm to 1 m tall. Stem erect, glabrous, branched at the base. Leaves alternate, linear to lanceolate, 1-3.5 cm long, 1.5-3 mm broad, 3-nerved. Flowers in corymbose racemes, blue; pedicel 1.5-2 cm long. Sepals imbricate, 5-8 mm long, ovate, acuminate, 3-nerved; margin white. Petals linear to lanceolate, c. 12 mm long, contorted. Stamens 5; staminodes absent; filament c. 8 mm long; anthers 2 mm long, bi-Lobed. Ovary ovoid, styles free, c. 3 mm long; stigma linear, 1.5 mm long. Capsule sub-globose, c. 1 cm long, beaked: seeds c. 5 mm long, ellipsoid, dark brown, shiny.
Fl. Per. Feb-May.
Type: Described from Southern Europe.
Distribution: Widely cultivated in Europe and Asia. Origin unknown but the plant has been in cultivation from prehistoric times.
“Flax” is cultivated in the plains to c. 1900 m. alt. s. m. It is grown for its bast fibres from which linen cloth and ropes are made. Linseed oil, “Alsi-ka-tel”, is extracted from the seeds which are also medicinal, while the “seed-cake” is used for feeding cattle.