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Linum perenne - L.

Common Name Perennial Flax, Blue flax, Alpine flax
Family Linaceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards The raw seed contains cyanide and should not be eaten raw[183]. The cooked seed is perfectly safe[183].
Habitats Calcareous grassland[244]. Prairies to alpine ridges, usually on dry well-drained soils in Western N. America[60].
Range Europe. Western N. America.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Linum perenne Perennial Flax, Blue flax,  Alpine flax


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Hagen_Graebner
Linum perenne Perennial Flax, Blue flax,  Alpine flax
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Selso

 

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Summary

Bloom Color: Blue, White. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Late spring, Mid summer. Form: Upright or erect.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Linum perenne is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 7 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to July, and the seeds ripen in August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, flies.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

L. lewisii. Pursh.

Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Oil

Seed - cooked[46, 61, 183]. A pleasant nutty taste and very nutritious[94]. The seed has a high oil content and can be eaten on its own or used as a flavouring[161, 183]. It should not be eaten raw because it contains cyanide but this is destroyed in the cooking process[183].

Medicinal Uses

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Antirheumatic  Carminative  Emollient  Ophthalmic  Poultice  Stomachic

The plant is antirheumatic, carminative and stomachic[94, 257]. The oil in the seed has soothing and lubricating properties, and is used in medicines to soothe tonsillitis, sore throats, coughs, colds, constipation, gravel and stones[244]. When mixed with an equal quantity of lime water it is used to treat burns and scalds[244]. A poultice of the fresh crushed leaves has been used to treat eye problems[94, 213]. A tincture of the entire plant is used in the treatment of diarrhoea[4]. The fresh herb is boiled and taken internally for the treatment of rheumatic pains, heartburn, colds, coughs and dropsy[4, 257]. A poultice of the plant is applied to bruises to reduce the swelling[257]. The seeds are emollient[240]. An eye medicine is made from them[257]. An infusion of the roots is used as an eyewash[257].

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Edible Shrubs provides detailed information, attractively presented, on over 70 shrub species. They have been selected to provide a mix of different plant sizes and growing conditions. Most provide delicious and nutritious fruit, but many also have edible leaves, seeds, flowers, stems or roots, or they yield edible or useful oil.

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Other Uses

Cosmetic  Fibre  Hair  Oil  Paper

A drying oil is obtained from the seed. Used mainly for lighting[178], though it could also be used in all the ways that linseed oil (from Linum usitatissimum) is used - in paints, varnishes etc[115]. An infusion of the whole plant is used as a hair and skin wash[257]. It is said to be very beneficial to the skin and also to help prevent hair loss[257]. A good fibre is obtained from the stems, it is inferior to flax (Linum usitatissimum)[115] but is used for making cloth, nets, string, baskets, mats etc and in paper making[4, 46, 61, 74, 94, 115]. When used for paper making, the stems are harvested in late summer or autumn when they are two thirds yellow and are then retted[189]. The fibre is then stripped from the stem, cooked for two hours or more with lye and then beaten in a Hollander beater[189].

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Alpine garden, Border, Container, Foundation, Massing, Rock garden. Prefers a light dry well-drained moderately fertile humus-rich soil in a sunny sheltered position[200]. Prefers an alkaline soil. Established plants are drought tolerant[190]. A very ornamental plant[1], it is not generally very long-lived though it normally self-sows freely[190]. The sub-species lewisii (which is seen as a separate species by some botanists or as no more than a synonym of this species by others) is more desirable for its fibre and has been cultivated by the N. American Indians for this purpose[155]. Special Features: Naturalizing.

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Propagation

Seed - sow spring in greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Basal cuttings in spring. Harvest the shoots when they are about 8 - 10cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Expert comment

Author

L.

Botanical References

200

Links / References

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Readers comment

Lawler Barnes   Thu Mar 15 2007

Nature Abhors a Garden Blue Flax is the featured plant 18 March 2007

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