Linaceae (Flax Family)

The European Common Flax has been used by humans for thousands of years. It's long fibers are used to make linen, the oldest known textile. The fibers are used also for nets and ropes, and the seeds are pressed to obtain linseed oil. The left over seed husks and fiber-less plant material is used for cattle feed. It's latin name, Linum usitatissium, means "of maximum usefulness".

Linaceae in our area have flowers of 5 separate petals (which often fall away early), 5 nearly separate sepals, and five stamens, which alternate with the petals and join at the base to create a low collar. The pistil has 5 divisions length-wise, each of which produces 2 flattened seeds.

On Montara Mountain, members of Linaceae include the Western Blue Flax (Linum perrene) and the Narrow Leaf Flax (Linum bienne).

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Linum bienne:
Narrow Leaf Flax

Linaceae (Flax Family)

Flowers: Pale Blue to lavender, 5 petals, distinctly veined, .5 inch across.

Blooms: April - July.

Leaves: Short and upright, clinging to stem.

Fruit/Seeds: Small, black, flattened and in pairs.

Location: Grassy trails and meadows, Valley View Trail in San Pedro Valley County Park.

Status: Native - Common.

Linum bienne

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Further description & Comment: 6 inches - 2 feet tall. Note the distinctive markings on the flowers and the tightly clasped leaves along the stems. Western Blue Flax is larger, has larger, overlapping petals.


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