Flax Plant - History and Information

History and Description

The flax plant, or common flax or linseed, carrying the binomial name Linum usitatissimum, belongs to the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. Flax is grown in the region extending from eastern Mediterranean to India and it is likely that it was first domesticated and cultivated in this region. Flax was extensively cultivated in ancient Egypt.

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A note about the Flax Plant - History and Information

Herbs are God and nature's gifts to us. While the use of herbs and herb remedies has brought excellent results for many people, do note that their health benefits may be limited when they are used in isolation. However, when combined with some basic dietary and lifestyle good health habits, such as a full body detox and a proper understanding and application of nutrition, the impact on one's health will be greatly magnified.

In natural health and healing, we believe that the body has the ability to heal itself of any disease, even supposedly incurable diseases. We also believe in holistic health and healing, as we realize that different parts of the human body are highly interlinked, often beyond Man’s understanding. It is thus a good idea to apply these fundamental health steps no matter how remote or unrelated a health condition may seem.

Description of flax

Flax is an annual plant which grows up to 1.2 m tall, with slender stems. The leaves are green and slender, 20-40 mm long and 3 mm broad. The plant bears pale blue flowers, 15-25 mm diameter, with five petals. The fruit is round and about 5-9 mm diameter, containing several glossy brown seeds about 4-7 mm long.

Besides the name "flax" being attributed to the plant itself, the term "flax" can be used to refer to the unspun fibres of the flax plant. Flax is widely cultivated for its seeds and fibers.

Flax fibers

One of the oldest fiber crops in the world are flax fibers and this has been used in the production of linen for over 5000 years. The temple walls at Thebes and pictures on the Egyptian tombs show flowering flax plants.

In Northern Europe, the use of flax fiber for manufacturing fabrics for garments dates back to Neolithic times. The Puritans introduced flax to North America when they came to the new continent.

Flax fiber is extracted from the bast or skin of the stem of flax plant. Flax fiber is soft, lustrous and flexible. It is stronger than cotton fiber but less elastic. The best grades are used for linen fabrics such as damasks, lace and sheeting. Coarser grades are used for the manufacturing of twine and rope.

Flax fiber is also a raw material for the high-quality paper industry for the use of printed banknotes and rolling paper for cigarettes.

Cultivation of flax

Flax is grown in areas of temperate and sub-tropical regions of both hemispheres. In the current economic scenario, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Russia, Egypt and China are the foremost producers of flax for commercial textile purposes. Estimated crop production for 2006 by the three main producers of Belgium, France and Netherlands was 105,000 tonnes of long flax and 57,000 tonnes of short flax for a combined hectarage of 96,200 of area over which crop was cultivated and harvested.

One of the uses of flax dates back to Egyptian history where flax was used for weaving into linen, over four thousand years ago. Around the time in the latter part of the Middle Ages, flax became the most commonly used textile in Europe. Cotton became popular and challenged the primary position of flax only in the early part of the nineteenth century.

Other interesting facts about flax

  • Flax is the emblem of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

  • The flax plant appeared in the coronet on the reverse of the British one pound coin to represent Northern Ireland on coins minted in 1986 and 1991.

  • The national flower of Belarus is common flax.

    What is flax seed?

    How about flax seeds? More information on the health benefits of flax seeds, including flax seed nutrition, as well as the health benefits of flax seed oil, are discussed in the other related articles.

    Flax Pages | Flax Plant - History and Information | Flax Seed Benefits - Flax Seed Nutrition | Health Benefits of Flax Seeds | Benefits of Flax Seed Oil | Flax Seed Oil Benefits - Tips On Obtaining Them | Flax Oil and Cottage Cheese - FOCC, the Incredible Mixture | Flax Oil Side Effects and Precautions

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