Linum catharticum L. - Fairy flax.

Taxonomic position.

Family Linaceae S.F.Gray, genus Linum L.


Cathartolinum pratense Reichb., Cathartolinum catharticum (L.) Small

Morphology and biology.

Herbaceous annual, less often biennial or perennial, 5-30 cm tall. Stems slender, glabrous, erect or ascending, branching only in inflorescence, sparsely leaved. Leaves opposite (upper ones often alternate), sessile, at margins (especially in lower part) scabrous with short bristles, 1-veined. Lower leaves oblong, obovate; upper ones lanceolate, acute at apex. Flowers in lax inflorescences, on long, slender, glabrous pedicels, drooping before blossom. Sepals elliptic, slightly acute at apex, glandular-ciliate in upper half. Petals oblong-obovate, 3-6 mm long, white, yellow at the base. Fruit is a capsule 2-3 mm long, erect, globous, its walls contain long hairs inside. Seeds small, ellipsoid, light brown, flat, smooth, shiny, 1-1.5 mm long.
Entomophilous. Flowers in June - September, fruits in July - September. 2n=16.


Almost throughout Europe, European part of Russia (except for the northernmost areas), Crimea, Caucasus, Africa (North), Iran, North America.


Mesophyte. Occurs in meadows and forest glades, in shrubberies, on wet rocks, in fields, at road margins.

Use and economic value.

Medicine plant with cathartic properties.


Gubanov IA., Kiseleva KV., Novikov VS., Tikhomirov VN. 2003. Illustrated Manual of the Middle Russia Plants. V.2. Moscow: KMK. 665 p. (In Russian).
Yuzepchuk SV. 1949. Flax - Linum L. In: Shishkin BK, Bobrov EG, ed. 1949. Flora URSS. V.14. P.127-128. (In Russian).

© I.G.Chukhina


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