What is Flaxseed?
Flax is a delicate annual plant 8-22 inches high, the slender, wiry, glabrous, single, leafy, stem has few branches and bears alternate, sessile, simple, entire, lanceolate to oblong, linear, leaves. The numerous leaves are stalkless, alternate, linear with three parallel nerves. Each branch has one or two, delicate, blue or violet-blue, five-petaled, funnel-shaped, slightly overlapping petals (1/2-3/4 inches across), flowers from June to August. The fruit is an 8- to 10-seeded capsule, the seeds are smooth, flattened, shiny, oval beaked, and light brown. Zones 5-10. Not heat-tolerant. This is the common flaxseed. Another flax plant, purging flax or fairy flax (Linum catharticum), is common in European meadows and pastures. It has opposite leaves and white flowers. In small quantities the plant has purgative properties, in large quantities it is emetic. An infusion of the dried herb is used. Caution: large quantities of purging flax can cause fatal poisoning. Another variety: Blue flax (Linum Lewisii) is known to the Shoshone Indians as "Poohi natesua." This plant's root was steeped for eye medicine. The Paiute Indians called it "Alai natesua" and the whole stem was steeped and used for disorders of the stomach and gas.
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