Flax: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information on flax

Flax is an annual of the Linaceae family growing to 1.2 m (3 ft 11 in) tall, with slender stems. The leaves are glaucous green, slender lanceolate, 20–40 mm long and 3 mm broad. The flowers are pure pale blue, 15–25 mm diameter, with five petals; they can also be bright red. The fruit is a round, dry capsule 5–9 mm diameter, containing several glossy brown seeds shaped like an apple pip, 4–7 mm long.

In addition to referring to the plant itself, the word flax may refer to the unspun fibers of the flax plant.

common names & nomenclature
The common name Flax is from Old English fleax, from Proto-Germanic flahsą, from Proto-Indo-European plek (“to plait”).

Also known as:
Flax, Linseed, Common Flax

Flax, from textiles to tables
Flax: Where in the World
habitat and range for flax

Flax is native to the region extending from the eastern Mediterranean to India and was probably first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent. Flax was extensively cultivated in ancient China and ancient Egypt.

Flax: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting flax

Flax is often found just above the waterline in cranberry bogs. Grows mostly in cultivated areas as a crop and prefers a sunny, sheltered location.

Flax grows best in alluvial soil, deep loams, and soils rich in organic matter.

Sow seeds early to late spring directly in the garden bed. Seedlings do not transplant well.

Flax is harvested for fiber production after approximately 100 days or a month after the plant flowers and two weeks after the seed capsules form. The base of the plant will begin to turn yellow. If the plant is still green the seed will not be useful, and the fiber will be underdeveloped. The fiber degrades once the plant is brown. Flax seeds are either harvested mechanically (with a combine) or manually. Seeds are dried and used whole or ground.

Store whole or ground flax seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Flax: The Rest of the Story
flax history, folklore, literature & more

the miracle of flax
When it comes to superfoods, you can’t get much stronger than flax. Flax is a plant that is native to Asia, but now grows all over the world. And you can’t beat it for packing nutrients that you truly need. Flax seeds is full of rich omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are used by virtually every part of your body.

There are many ways you can use flax. First, it’s important that if you purchase whole seeds you grind them before using them. Whole seeds are too hard to be digested and will pass right through the body without delivering any nutrients. Instead, use a coffee grinder or blender to chop them into fine pieces. Once ground into a meal the Ground flax seeds should be stored in the refrigerator to lengthen shelf life.

Ground flax seeds can be added to many foods. Adding one tablespoon to yogurt, cereal, or a smoothie will give you the fiber you need to last all day. Just make sure to drink a tall glass of water with it as well to make sure the fiber is used well by your body. You can also add flax seeds to sauces and soups. While you don’t want to cook them at a high heat, you can add them to a finished soup once it’s off the stove.

If you’re new to flax, you should start with a small amount. You’ll never need to have more than two tablespoons of it in a day. Just one tablespoon will deliver a great deal of fiber to your diet and adding a second may be too much for your digestive system if you’re not used to it.

Flax oil can also be used instead of the actual seed. This won’t add fiber to your diet, but it will help you to deliver the omega-3 acids.