Nelson, Elton G. National Agricultural Library, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Maryland.
Colbertson, Joseph O. Formerly, Industrial Crops Investigations, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Maryland.
Kommedahl, Thor Department of Plant Pathology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Last reviewed:January 2020
- Flax for fiber
- Flax for seed
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
An erect annual plant, Linum usitatissimum, cultivated as a source of flaxseed and fiber. The flax plant (Linum usitatissimum) [Fig. 1] is the source of two products: flaxseed for linseed oil and fiber for linen products. Plants with two distinct types of growth are used for seed and fiber production; however, even with this distinction, fiber is sometimes a by-product of linseed production, and seed is an important by-product of fiber flax. Flax is an annual plant with a stem size that varies between about 0.0625 and 0.25 in. (1.6 and 6.4 mm) in diameter. The flax flower has five petals, which are blue, white, or pale pink. The color of the flower depends on the variety. Seeds of most varieties appear in varying shades of brown and yellow (Fig. 2). Flax must be grown in rotation with other crops, and it should not be planted on the same land more frequently than once every 4 to 6 years; otherwise, disease-producing organisms build up in the soil, and the yields may be greatly reduced unless resistant varieties are grown. See also: Farm crops; Fiber crops; Seed; Stem
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