Linum usitatissimum L. s.str. - Common, cultivated or fiber flax.

Taxonomic position.

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


L. indehiscens subsp. eurasiaticum proles elongatas Ell.

Morphology and biology.

Herbaceous annual plant, 60-120 (150) cm tall. Stem is most often single, straight, branching only in the uppermost part (inflorescence). Leaves are 2-3 cm long and 3-4 mm wide, linear and linear-lanceolate, acute on top, smoky blue, with three veins, sessile, arranged spirally and comparatively not too densely on the stem. Flowers are androgynous, pentamerous. Sepals are loose, persistent with fruit, 5-6 mm long, ovate-lanceolate, acuminate, with a sharp carina; internal ones white and scarious along the edges and finely ciliated on the top edge. Flowers are not numerous, 1.5-2 cm in diameter, set on long pedicels exceeding the calyx in length, incrassate on top and equipped with an articulation. Petals are 12-15 mm long, smooth along the edge or somewhat corrugated, light or deep blue in color. Fruit is a pod 6-8 mm long and 5-6.8 mm in diameter, globular, slightly depressed, yellowish; pod septa are bare, less frequently ciliate. Seeds are ovoid, very oblate, brown, smooth and glossy, 3.3-5 mm long. Entomophilous. Blossoms in May/June; bears fruit in July/August. 2n=30.


Occurs throughout Atlantic and Central Europe, the European part of Russia (from 62-63╓N down to 50-55╓N), and Southwestern Siberia. Cultivated as a spring crop; as a wild plant, it occurs only when it fortuitously becomes undomesticated.


Xeromesophyte. Grows in ruderal sites, along roadsides, near homesteads, and as a weed, predominantly in sandy loam and loamy soils in comparatively humid and warm climate conditions.

Utilization and economic value.

Industrial (fiber and oil) and medicinal herb. Ancient and popular crop, cultivated mostly for fiber. Considerable length and thickened walls of primary fibers contribute to the high quality of flax fiber and makes this species a first-rate textile plant.


Brezhnev, D.D., Korovina, O.N. 1981. Wild relatives of cultivated plants in the flora of the USSR. Leningrad: Kolos, pp. 309-310 (in Russian).
Juzepchuk, S.V. 1949. Common - Linum L. Flora of the USSR. Vol. 14. Moscow/Leningrad: Publishing House of the USSR Academy of Sciences, pp. 102-105. (in Russian).

© I.G. Chuhina

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