LINUM Flowering Flax
(From linon, flax)
There are several annual Flaxes, including Linum grandiflorum (coccineum), the Scarlet Flax, about a foot tall, with wide-open, glossy flowers, and L. usilatissimum, the Flax of commerce which bears blue flowers, and grows 3 feet tall.
Where to Plant. The Flax is truly beautiful and forms clumps in the border where the glowing flowers are a delight of gracefulness. It is also an excellent edging plant and worthy of a place in a rockery.
Commercial Flax has been grown for many years and has escaped from the cultivated fields of many countries, and become wild. The species name, usitatissimum, means most useful and refers to the various parts, which have been used. It was a source of cloth before the foundation of Babylon. The Egyptian mummies are wrapped in linen made from fibers obtained from the stems of this species. In the early days of its cultivation, the plants were cut and soaked in water to dissolve out the gummy substance between the bark and stems. After drying, the stems were crushed by rollers and then beaten with broadswords. The fibers were then spun into threads. The Romans used linen for cords and sails, but not for garments. Linseed oil is made from the seeds, as well as flaxseed poultices and tea, well-known home remedies. Some persons believe that a flaxseed placed in the eye will help to remove other foreign substances.
GENERAL. Seed of Flax is perfectly hardy and may be sown early in the Spring. Thin the plants to stand 8 to 19 inches apart. Sowing additional seed several times during the Summer attains a succession of bloom.