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Record information and status
Record ID
Date of creation
2006-04-04 16:44 UTC (kirsty.mclean.consultant@cbd.int)
Date of last update
2016-09-19 14:26 UTC (dina.abdelhakim@cbd.int)
Date of publication
2016-09-19 14:26 UTC (dina.abdelhakim@cbd.int)

Organism information
Scientific name
Linum usitatissimum
Taxonomic Classification
SpeciesLinum usitatissimum
Scientific name synonyms(s)
Linum humile
Common name(s)
Additional Classification
Type of organism
Organism domestication
  • Domesticated
Characteristics related to biosafety
Centre(s) of origin
The origins of L. usitatissimum L. is uncertain (Lay and Dybing, 1989). Remains of flax, possibly L. angustifolium Huds. have been found associated with archaeological remains of early civilizations. The most likely progenitor is L. angustifolium but other species such as L. bienne/i] Mill. may have contributed some germplasm). It is generally accepted that, because of the very diverse forms of flax found in an area east of the Mediterranean Sea towards India, flax originated in this area. Seed-type flax grown for expressible oil was grown in southwestern Asia, while the fibre types were developed primarily in the Mediterranean. Lay and Dybing (1989) suggest that selection for annual plants with indehiscent or partially dehiscent seed-bearing capsules has resulted in genotypes suitable for modern agriculture.
Habitat range
The soils most suitable for flax, besides the alluvial kind, are deep loams, and containing a large proportion of organic matter. Heavy clays are unsuitable, as are soils of a gravelly or dry sandy nature. Farming flax requires few fertilizers or pesticides. Within 8 weeks of sowing, the plant will reach 10-15 cm in height, and will grow several centimeters per day under its optimal growth conditions, reaching 70-80 cm within fifteen days.
Geographical distribution
The significant linseed producing countries are Canada (~34%) and China (~25.5%), though there is also production in India (~9%), USA (~8%), Ethiopia (~3.5%) and throughout Europe
Common use(s)
  • Ornamental
  • Fiber/textile
  • Food
Additional Information
Additional Information
Linum usitatissimum L. is a species of the family Linaceae (Flax family). It is an erect, herbaceous annual which branches corymbosely above the main stem. Two types of L. usitatissimum are cultivated: the linseed type, grown for oil extracted from the seed, is a relatively short plant which produces many secondary branches compared to the flax type, grown for the fibre extracted from the stem, which is taller and is less branched.

Cultivated flax is an annual reproducing by means of seed. Because of its flower structure and because its "sticky pollen" is rarely transferred by insects, flax is a highly self-pollinated species. The pollen is viable for only a few hours. As the flower opens, the anthers come together and form a cap over the stigma. Dillman (1938) in studying natural crossing in flax reported the range of natural crossing from 0-5%, there being variation among genotypes.

Records referencing this document (15)
15record(s) found
Gene and DNA Sequence7 records
Modified Organism8 records