Index- plants in this Family
Linaceae / Flax
Common Yellow Flax (Linum medium)
Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a perennial which can reach 90cm in height (36inches). A slinder, delicate plant with stiff, ascending upper branches. The inner sepals have stalked glands.
Leaves: The leaves can be opposite or alternate. Leaves can reach 2.5cm in length (1inches). Each leaf is entire.
Flowers: The flowers have 5 Regular Parts and are up to 1.5cm wide (0.6 inches). They are yellow. Blooms first appear in late spring and continue into late summer.
Habitat: Dry woods, fields, barrens and glades.
Range: Most of eastern North America south of southeastern Canada.

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There is but one genus in the Flax or Linaceae family.

Lore: The name 'Linum' is the latin word for the fiber used to make linen. There is little lore associated with our native Flaxes, however, the blue flowered Common Flax (Linum usitatissimun ) introduced to this country from Europe has been used there for many thousands of years for the making of fabric. This Flax has been cultivated and escaped from cultivation for so long that the original location of origin is not known. The white linen made from the fibers symbolized purity and was used to make robes for the priests of many cultures including Egyptians. There are many biblical references to linen. (Grieve) Linseed oil is made from the seeds.

Medical Uses: Linum usitatissimun has been used for medically for various external and internal conditions for thousands of years and the Cherokees learned to use it after it was introduced in America.(Hamel/Chiltoskey) It is not known if they used the native Flaxes in a similar fashion.

Similar Species: There are about five Linum species native to our area. All are yellow flowered. Virginia Yellow Flax ( L. virginianum) is very similar. It has more divergent, flexible branches and very tiny sepal glands. These are difficult charters to distinguish. For some of the species the range and habitat are useful it helping to determine which is which. In the past some botanist grouped several species together as varieties of L. virginianum.

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More Info:  
The Search below may provide more information about this species. Some of URLs may have been used as a source for this page not otherwise cited. Most of the information not cited comes from multiple sources that can be found in the Books page. The USDA plant links are provided by: USDA, NRCS 1999. The PLANTS database ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. You can check species names at ITIS Advanced Search to see if they meet the current ITIS taxonomic criteria.

By: Newcomb, Lawrence and Illustrated by Morrison, Gordon. 1977, Little, Brown and Company, ISBN:0-316-60442-9

One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.

Wildflo wers of Tennessee the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians
By: Dennis Horn and Tavia Cathcart and Thomas E. Hemmerly and David Duhl. , ISBN:1551054280

This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.


Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves



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