by Stephen Mifsud
   22 Jun 2024      ()
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Linum usitatissimum   (Common Flax)

Linum usitatissimum  (LINACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

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Profile Date Dec-2007 (taxon update: none)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Linum usitatissimum - datasheet created on Dec-2007. Retrieved from on 22-Jun-2024

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Linum usitatissimumL.
Published in Sp. Pl. 277 (1753)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Linum humile Mill.
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Linaceae S.F. Gray (The Flax Family)
6 species from the Linaceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Common Flax, Flaxseed

Maltese name(s) :


Status for Malta :

Casual or accidental alien. Species that was introduced in Malta rather recently and normally it is short-lived or resticted to small populations for a short time, without becoming widespread or invasive.

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent     Scarce     Rare    Very rare    Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: THEROPHYTE ( annual plants, herbaceous )
Germination [info]: Dicotyledon

Legal Protection :

Not legally protected till the last update of this website (2/Mar/2022)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :

March – May

Colour of Flowers:



May cause allergic reactions or irritation in contact with the skin or mucous membranes

Name Derivation :


Planting in rural areas :

Can be planted in rural areas according to ERA Guidelines

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Not known wild. Of uncertain origin, perhaps derived from 23.
Preferred habitat in Malta: Often found cultivated in open fields and some escapees in field margins or valley sides which do not persist for long.
Botanical Description: Annual; robust stems 16-70 cm, unbranched or sparsely branched, slender, ascending or erect. Leaves 1.5-3 mm wide, linear or linear-lanceolate, acuminate, 3-veined. Sepals 6-9 mm, subequal, ovate-acuminate, with a conspicuous midvein; margin of inner sepals scarious and ciliate, margin of outer sepals entire. Petals 2-3 times as long as sepals, blue. Stigmas linear. Capsule 6-9 mm, subglobose; beak c. 1 mm, acuminate. Homostylous.
Distributional range: Formerly cultivated throughout most of Europe for the fibre (flax) and oil from the seed (linseed ) now much less commonly grown, especially in the west, but still recorded as a casual throughout Europe.

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
Bl(N) Ct dHb(E) Hs(S) dTu(A) [Ab(A) AE aAg aAl Ar Au(A) ?Au(L) aAz(F) BH Bl(I M) nBl(N) nBr Bu By aCa Ca(C G L P T) aCg aCo Cr aCs Ct Cy aEg Es nGa(C) Ga(F) Ge nGg Gg(A G) nGr nHb Hb(E N) Hs nHs(A S) cHu IJ aIr aIs nIt La aLi LS Lt nLu aMa aMd Md(M) Mk Mo No aPo Rf(C E K NW S) cRf(N) aRm nSa nSi(S) cSk Sl Sr nTcs aTn Tu(A E) Uk(U)]

Links & Further literature (0 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (14 images)
   Linum usitatissimum   -   Image Code: LNMUS-0.
   Linum usitatissimum   -   Image Code: LNMUS-1.
   Linum usitatissimum   -   Image Code: LNMUS-2.
   Linum usitatissimum   -   Image Code: LNMUS-3.
   Linum usitatissimum   -   Image Code: LNMUS-4.
   Linum usitatissimum   -   Image Code: LNMUS-5.
   Linum usitatissimum   -   Image Code: LNMUS-6.
   Linum usitatissimum   -   Image Code: LNMUS-7.
   Linum usitatissimum   -   Image Code: LNMUS-8.
   Linum usitatissimum   -   Image Code: LNMUS-9.
   Linum usitatissimum   -   Image Code: LNMUS-10.
   Linum usitatissimum   -   Image Code: LNMUS-11.
   Linum usitatissimum   -   Image Code: LNMUS-12.
   Linum usitatissimum   -   Image Code: LNMUS-13.

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