Herbs, sometimes shrubby, glabrous, more rarely hirsute. Leaves alternate, rarely opposite, narrow, entire; stipules absent or glandular. Flowers in terminal or lateral racemose panicles or fascicled cymes, blue, white, yellow, or crimson. Sepals 5, entire. Petals 5, contorted, fugacious. Stamens 5, united at the base, alternating with 5 staminodes. Disk of 5 glands opposite the petals. Capsule 5-celled, dehiscing septi-cidally, cells 2-seeded, or sometimes 10-celled with the cells 1-seeded. Albumen thin. About eighty species are distributed over the temperate and warm regions of the globe. The Flax from which linen is manufactured is the fibre from the stems of L. usitatissimum.

Fig. 56. Linum grandiflorum. (1/3 nat. size.)

Fig. 56. Linum grandiflorum. (1/3 nat. size.)

1. L. grandiflorum (fig. 56). - This is one of the handsomest annual species, having beautiful crimson flowers. It grows about 18 inches high, with slender erect stems. A native of North Africa.

2. L. alpinum. - A pretty dwarf perennial species about 6 inches high with dark blue flowers. Stems decumbent. Leaves short, linear-acute. A European species, flowering in Summer.

3. L. campanulatum. - Perennial, growing about 18 inches high. Leaves broadly lanceolate, glaucous. Flowers large, bright yellow. South of Europe.

4. L. perenne. - A native species. Stems erect, 1 to 2 feet high, very slender. Leaves 6 to 8 lines long, narrow, linear-lanceolate, acute. Flowers normally blue; but there are several varieties, including a pink and a white. One of the best, as it is quite hardy.

L. arboreum and L. fiavum are handsome yellow-flowering species. The former is a shrubby evergreen, and rather tender. The common Flax is also a very pretty plant.