Linum usitatissimum (Flax, Flax, Linseed, LINUS) | BCH-ORGA-SCBD-12087 | Organism | Biosafety Clearing-House

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Organism (ORGA)

published: 04 Apr 2006 last updated: 19 Sep 2016
Organism information
Linum usitatissimum
Kingdom Plantae
Phylum Magnoliophyta
Class Magnoliopsida
Order Linales
Family Linaceae
Genus Linum
Species Linum usitatissimum
  • Linum humile
  • Flax
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  • Flax
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  • Linseed
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  • LINUS
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Crops
Domesticated
Characteristics related to biosafety
The origins of L. usitatissimum L. is uncertain (Lay and Dybing, 1989). Remains of flax, possibly L. angustifolium Huds. have been found associated with archaeological remains of early civilizations. The most likely progenitor is L. angustifolium but other species such as L. bienne/i] Mill. may have contributed some germplasm). It is generally accepted that, because of the very diverse forms of flax found in an area east of the Mediterranean Sea towards India, flax originated in this area. Seed-type flax grown for expressible oil was grown in southwestern Asia, while the fibre types were developed primarily in the Mediterranean. Lay and Dybing (1989) suggest that selection for annual plants with indehiscent or partially dehiscent seed-bearing capsules has resulted in genotypes suitable for modern agriculture.
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The soils most suitable for flax, besides the alluvial kind, are deep loams, and containing a large proportion of organic matter. Heavy clays are unsuitable, as are soils of a gravelly or dry sandy nature. Farming flax requires few fertilizers or pesticides. Within 8 weeks of sowing, the plant will reach 10–15 cm in height, and will grow several centimeters per day under its optimal growth conditions, reaching 70–80 cm within fifteen days.
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The significant linseed producing countries are Canada (~34%) and China (~25.5%), though there is also production in India (~9%), USA (~8%), Ethiopia (~3.5%) and throughout Europe
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  • Ornamental
  • Fiber/textile
  • Food
Additional Information
Linum usitatissimum L. is a species of the family Linaceae (Flax family). It is an erect, herbaceous annual which branches corymbosely above the main stem. Two types of L. usitatissimum are cultivated: the linseed type, grown for oil extracted from the seed, is a relatively short plant which produces many secondary branches compared to the flax type, grown for the fibre extracted from the stem, which is taller and is less branched.

Cultivated flax is an annual reproducing by means of seed. Because of its flower structure and because its "sticky pollen" is rarely transferred by insects, flax is a highly self-pollinated species. The pollen is viable for only a few hours. As the flower opens, the anthers come together and form a cap over the stigma. Dillman (1938) in studying natural crossing in flax reported the range of natural crossing from 0-5%, there being variation among genotypes.
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