Flax Facts

Flax Facts
Flax, also known as linseed, is herbaceous plant that belongs to the family Linaceae. It originates from Mediterranean region. According to certain fossil evidences, people started to use flax 30.000 years ago and it became domesticated 7.000 years ago. Flax grows in temperate climate, on fertile, alluvial types of soil, in areas with moderate rainfall. People cultivate flax as a source of food, oil, fibers and in decorative purposes. Canada and China are the greatest manufacturers of flax.
Interesting Flax Facts:
Flax has erect stem with multiple branches on top of the plant. It can reach 3 feet 11 inches in height.
Flax has strong taproot that can grow to the depth of 3 to 4 feet.
Flax produces simple, lanceolate leaves with smooth edges. Leaves are grayish green colored and alternately arranged on the stem.
Flax develops pale blue flowers arranged in loose raceme inflorescence (unbranched inflorescence composed of flowers with short flower stalks). Some varieties of flax produce white, yellow or red flowers.
Flax produces bisexual flowers (they contain both types of reproductive organs) and it can perform self-pollination.
Fruit of flax is round, dry capsule (called boll) filled with up to 10 oval, smooth and shiny seed. Flax seed can be yellow, greenish, green-brownish, brown or very dark (almost black). Most commonly cultivated varieties of flax produce light-brown or brown seed.
Flax propagates via seed. Plant is ready for the harvest around 100 days after planting.
Flax seed and oil extracted from the seed are used in human diet. They are rich source of omega 3 fatty acids, proteins, dietary fibers, vitamins of the B group and minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus and zinc.
Flax oil is used for salads. It should not be used for cooking because heat destroys all nutrients. Seed can be ground or consumed whole as ingredient of breakfast cereals, granola bars and various desserts, breads and pastry.
Flax seed and oil extracts are used in treatment of respiratory disorders, flu, common cold, fever and rheumatism.
Fibers extracted from the stem are used in the manufacture of linen. They are smooth, straight and 3 times stronger (but less elastic) than cotton fibers. Flax fibers are used in textile industry for the manufacture of cloth and bed sheets.
Linen was symbol of purity in the ancient Egypt. Priests wore only cloth made of linen and used straps of linen during the process of mummification to cover the mummies.
Flax fibers are used in the industry of paper for the manufacture of paper for cigarettes, tea bags and banknotes.
Flax oil is used in the industry of paints, varnishes and printing inks. Leftovers of seed (after oil extraction) are used as animal feed.
Flax is an annual plant, which means that it completes its life cycle in one year.


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