Herbs or under-shrubs with entire, alternate leaves, no stipules, and regular flowers. Sepals 5, rarely fewer, distinct or united at the base. Petals 4 or 5, twisted in the bud. Stamens usually 10, usually free. Styles 5, rarely fewer. Ovary with as many cells as styles. Ovules 1 or 2 in each cell.

A small family widely spread over the globe.

Linum L. Flax

Sepals, petals, and stamens 5. Cells of the capsule 5, though apparently 10, each being divided into two by a nearly complete partition.

A rather large genus, particularly abundant in the Mediterranean region and Western Asia.

Linum Alpinum Jacq

Rootstock woody. Stem glabrous like the whole plant, few-flowered. Leaves linear-lanceolate. Flowers large; petals azure blue, obovate. Sepals ovate, shortly mucronate, shorter than the capsule.

Stony places in calcareous Alps. June, July.


Carpathians, Eastern, Central, and Western Alps, Jura, and in many parts of hilly France; Western Asia.

Linum Tenuifolium L. (Plate III)

Rootstock rather woody. Stem a foot high, downy below. Leaves linear, acute, rough at the edges. Sepals lanceolate, acuminate, subulate, glandular-ciliate, longer than the capsule. Petals lilac or rose, obovate, shortly acuminate.

Dry stony places in the hills and sub-alps. May to July.


Central and Southern Europe; Western Asia; Algeria.

Linum Viscosum L

A downy, glandular flax, with thick root. Stems 1-2 feet high, erect. Leaves velvety, oblong-lanceolate, entire, with 3-5 nerves. Flowers rose or rose-lilac, large and handsome, in long corymbs, sub-sessile. Sepals oval-acuminate, ciliate, glandular, 3-nerved. Petals 3 times longer than the sepals, veined with violet. Capsule globular- apiculate.

Meadows and pastures in the hills and sub-Alps. May to July.


Maritime Alps, Liguria, Pyrenees, N. Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Southern Germany.

Linum Salsoloides Lamk

Woody stock, stems about a foot high, downy above. Leaves very close together below, linear, stiff, 1-nerved. Flowers rose or flesh-coloured, pedicelled. Sepals oval-lanceolate, acuminate, ciliate, glandular, 3-nerved. Petals oboval, quite round at the top, veined darker, 3-4 times longer than the sepals. Capsule ovoid. Dry pastures and limestone hills in the south. June, July.


Liguria, e.g. on Monte Toraggio, South-central France, Northern Spain.

Linum Catharticum L. Cathartic Flax

This small, but well-known annual, with small white flowers and oblong, opposite leaves, is often found in the Alps and sub-Alps.


Europe, Western Asia, Canary Isles.