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Pale Flax

Linum bienne

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Linaceae (Flax)
Life Cycle:
Biennial or Perennial
Maximum Size:
50 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, meadows, roadsides, scrub, sea cliffs, seaside.

Blue, 5 petals
Pale lilac blue flowers, streaked dark blue. The petals are roundish. The sepals are more pointed than the similar looking Cultivated Flax (Linum usitatissimum). The flowers measure about 1cm across in diameter. Pollinated by flies, bees and wasps.
A globular capsule. The seeds ripen from July to October.
A short-lived perennial with slender, almost linear leaves. The leaves are each up to 2.5cm (1 inch) long.
Other Names:
Blue Flax, Narrowleaf Flax, Perennial Flax.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Linum bienne, also known as perennial flax or blue flax, is a species of perennial wildflowers in the genus Linum, and the family Linaceae. It is native to Europe, Asia and North America.

Linum bienne is a perennial herb that can grow to about 1-3 feet tall and produces a profusion of blue to purple, delicate and attractive flowers in spring and early summer. It has a basal rosette of linear green leaves and the stems are upright. The flowers have five petals and are about an inch in diameter.

Linum bienne is a hardy and adaptable species, it can grow well in a wide range of soil types, but prefers well-drained soils in full sun. It is also drought-tolerant and can survive in dry conditions. This plant is typically used as an ornamental plant in gardens, meadows, and wildflower gardens, it is also a great choice for rock gardens, cottage gardens and naturalistic plantings. It can also be used in mixed borders and mass plantings.

It is propagated by seed, sown in the spring or autumn and can also be grown from divisions or cuttings taken in the autumn or spring. It is hardy to USDA zones 3-8, and can survive cold winter temperatures.

Linum bienne is not known to have any specific medicinal properties, it is considered safe to grow and handle. Also it is not reported to have any invasive characteristic and it's not considered a invasive species.


Pale flax, also known as Linum bienne, is a plant species that belongs to the Linaceae family. It is a wildflower that is native to Europe, where it grows in various habitats, including grasslands, rocky slopes, and woodlands. Pale flax is a herbaceous annual plant that grows up to 50 centimeters in height, with slender stems and narrow, lance-shaped leaves.

One of the most distinctive features of pale flax is its delicate flowers. The flowers are small, with pale blue petals that are arranged in loose clusters at the top of the stems. The flowers bloom from late spring to early summer, attracting a wide range of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hoverflies.

Pale flax has been used by humans for thousands of years. In ancient times, the plant was cultivated for its fiber, which was used to make linen fabric. Linen made from pale flax is known for its high quality, durability, and softness. Even today, linen made from pale flax is considered a luxury fabric and is used in the production of high-end clothing and home textiles.

In addition to its use as a source of fiber, pale flax has also been used for medicinal purposes. The plant contains a range of bioactive compounds, including lignans and flavonoids, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer properties. Traditional herbal medicine uses pale flax to treat a variety of ailments, including constipation, coughs, and skin disorders.

Despite its many uses and benefits, pale flax is not commonly cultivated today. Most of the linen used in the textile industry is produced from other varieties of flax, which are easier to grow and harvest. However, pale flax is still an important part of the natural ecosystem and is valued for its aesthetic and ecological qualities. In the wild, pale flax provides a valuable source of food and habitat for insects and other wildlife, making it an important component of many ecological communities.

In conclusion, pale flax is a fascinating plant species with a rich history and many uses. From its role in ancient textile production to its modern applications in medicine, pale flax has contributed to human well-being for thousands of years. Its delicate flowers and slender stems also make it a beautiful addition to gardens and natural landscapes. As we continue to explore the many uses and benefits of this remarkable plant, we can appreciate the importance of preserving its natural habitats and ensuring that it continues to thrive for generations to come.


here's some more information on pale flax:

Cultivation of Pale Flax

Although pale flax is not commonly cultivated today, it is possible to grow the plant in a garden setting. Pale flax prefers well-drained soil and full sun, and it can be grown from seed in the spring. The plant requires regular watering, but care should be taken not to overwater, as pale flax is susceptible to root rot. After the flowers have bloomed and the plant has died back, the stems can be harvested and processed to extract the fiber.

Pale Flax as a Medicinal Plant

Pale flax has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years, and modern research has confirmed many of its health benefits. The lignans found in pale flax have been shown to have estrogenic effects, which may help to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women. Additionally, the plant contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Ecological Importance of Pale Flax

Pale flax is an important part of many ecological communities, providing food and habitat for a variety of insects and other wildlife. The plant is an important food source for caterpillars of several species of moths, and its flowers attract a variety of pollinators, including bees and butterflies. Additionally, pale flax is an attractive plant that can be used in wildflower meadows and other natural landscaping settings to enhance biodiversity and promote the health of local ecosystems.

In conclusion, pale flax is a versatile plant with a long history of use by humans. From its role in textile production to its modern applications in medicine, pale flax has contributed to human well-being for thousands of years. As we continue to explore the many uses and benefits of this remarkable plant, it is important to remember its ecological value and work to preserve its natural habitats. By doing so, we can ensure that future generations can enjoy the beauty and benefits of this remarkable plant.

Facts about Pale Flax

Here are some additional interesting facts about pale flax:

  1. Pale flax is also known as "fine-flowered flax" because of its delicate, small flowers.

  2. The seeds of pale flax are also edible and can be used in cooking. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein, and are often added to breads and cereals.

  3. Pale flax is an important source of nectar for bees and other pollinators, and the honey produced from pale flax is highly prized for its unique flavor.

  4. Linen made from pale flax is hypoallergenic and is often recommended for people with sensitive skin.

  5. In ancient times, pale flax was used as an offering to the gods, and it was believed to have healing powers and the ability to protect against evil spirits.

  6. Pale flax is sometimes used in landscaping as a low-maintenance ground cover, as it requires little water and can tolerate a variety of soil types.

  7. Pale flax is sometimes confused with the common flax plant, Linum usitatissimum, which is also used to produce linen fabric and is a major crop in some parts of the world.

  8. Pale flax has been the subject of scientific study for its potential applications in bioremediation, as it has been shown to be effective in removing heavy metals from contaminated soil.

  9. The genus name "Linum" comes from the Latin word for "flax", and the species name "bienne" means "biennial", although pale flax is actually an annual plant.

In conclusion, pale flax is a fascinating and versatile plant with a long history of use and many potential applications. Whether used for its fiber, medicinal properties, or ecological benefits, pale flax is a valuable resource that deserves continued study and preservation.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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