Herbs with entire, simple leaves and no stipules; with /lowers regular, symmetrical, and perfect, 5-(rarely 3 or 4-)merous. Calyx strongly imbricated in the bud, corolla convolute, hypogynous; stamens definite, hypogynous, alternate with the petals; styles distinct with capitate stigmas, and each cell of the capsule more or less divided by a false dissepiment into two 1-seeded compartments. Seeds with little or no albumen, attached to axile placentae.
Genera 3, species 90. A very important order in the arts. The Linum lias a very tenacious fiber in its bark, which is wrought into thread and cloth, forming the linen of commerce. Some species are cathartic, and yield from their seeds a fine mucilage. Only one genus need be mentioned here, viz:-
LINUM, L. Flax. (Celtic llin, a thread; hence Gr. , Eng. linen, flax.) Sepals, petals, stamens and styles 5, the latter rarely 3; capsules 5-celled; cells nearly divided by a false dissepiment; seeds 10, suspended, mucilaginous. - Herbs with a bark of strong fibers, and simple, sessile lvs.
* Flowers blue.................................( - red, No. 7).............
* Flowers yellow, - Sepals ciliate. Lvs. linear..................
- Sepals entire. Lvs. lanceolate......................
1 L. usitatissimum L. Common Flax. St. branching above; lvs. alternate) linear-lanceolate, acute; panicle corymbous; sep. ovate, acute, 3-veined at the base, membranous on the margin; petals crenate. - Introduced and somewhat naturalized in fields. St. 1 to 2f high, with 3-veined leaves, and many large, handsome, blue flowers. Jn., Jl. - This important plant has been cultivated from remote antiquity (see Gen. xli. 42), for the strong fibers of the bark, which are manufactured into linen. The seeds yield linseed oil, so extensively used in mixing paint, printers' ink, etc. They are also medicinal. § †
2 L. perenne L. Perennial Flax. Glabrous, with virgate branches; lvs. linear, acute, scattered; fls. supra-axillary and terminal; sep. oval, margins membranous, shorter than the globous capsule; petals retuse, blue, 3 or 4 times the length of the sepals. - Native West of the Miss. (perhaps not within the limits of this Flora). Not uncommon in gardens. Also native of Europe and Asia.
3 L. rigidum Ph. St. angular; lvs. erect, rigid, linear, acute; fls. racemed on the corymbous branches; sep. 3-veined, ovate-lanceolate, acuminate and, with the bracts glandularly fringe-serrate, longer than the globous capsule; styles more or less united at base. - Conn. (Robbins) to Iowa (Cousens), southward and northward; not common. Sts. 10 to 16' high, erect as well as the branches. Lvs. 4 to 8" long, scabrous on the margins. Fls. sulphur yellow, 8" diam. Jn., Jl. (L. Bootii Planch.) - The union of the styles appears variable in degree, in specimens which coincide in all other respects.
4 L. simplex. St. simple, with a small corymb with spreading branches at top; lvs. rigid, erect, linear-subulate, alternate; fls. few; sep. lanceolate, acute, scabrous on the margins, 3-veined, shorter than the globous-ovate capsules; styles distinct.- La. (Hale). St slender, 12 to 18' high. Lvs. 4 to 5" long. Capsules as large as Coriander.
5 L. Virginianum L. St. strict, with rather erect, corymbous branches above; leaves lanceolate to linear, acute; fls. showy (5" diam.), all turned to the upper side of the branches; sep. ovate-lanceolate, mucronate, about as long as the depressed capsule; sty. distinct. - Woods and hills, U. S. and Can. St. near 2f high, terete, glabrous. Lvs. 6 to 8" by 1 to 2", with one distinct vein only. Sep. 1-veined. Jl.
6 L. diffusum. St angular, diffusely paniculate; branches and veiny, lanceolate lvs., spreading; fls. alternate, very small (scarcely 2" broad); sep. ovate, abruptly mucronate, as long as the depressed capsule; sty. distinct. - Wet prairies, Ind., 0. Very different in aspect from No. 5, having the stem leaves twice larger (1' by 4"), the branch leaves minute, and the flowers 3 time3 smaller. Jl.
7 L. grandifldrum Desf. Fig. 262. Crimson-colored Flax. Erect, smooth, branched above; leaves elliptic-lanceolate, acute at each end, sessile, the lower and radical lance-obovate, crowded, petals broadly obovate, bright crimson.-
Gardens (from seeds lately distributed by the Government). Stem 8 - 10 high. Flowers 1' diam. † N. Africa.
8 L. trigynum Sm. Lvs. elliptical, acute, mucronate, entire; styles 3; caps. 3-celled. Green-house plant with large (1' diam.) yellow flowers. † E. Indies.