This section is from the book "Harper's Guide To Wild Flowers", by Caroline A. Creevey. Also available from Amazon: Harper's Guide To Wild Flowers.
Family, Flax. Color, yellow. Sepals, short, 5. Petals, stamens, and pistils, 5. A perfect and symmetrical flower, often taken as a pattern for class study. Stamens, united at base. Flowers, small, rather crowded on viscid, clustered stems, creeping at base. They last only a day, and produce a roundish, brown pod. Leaves, opposite below, alternate above; oblong, rather broad. Stem and branches, angular, often winged by ridges sent down from the leaf petioles. Summer.
In bogs and swamps, New England to Florida and westward. Linum means a thread. Flax is an Anglo-Saxon word, signifying to plait or weave. The use of flax for linen cloth, cordage, etc., is as ancient as are the Egyptian mummies, many of which were wrapped in fine linen. Of its history we read that " in the Temple of Minerva at Lindus there was kept a linen corselet of fine workmanship which had been worn by Amasis, an Egyptian king who reigned 600 years before Christ, each thread of which was composed of 360 filaments."