Linaceae: Flax Family

Western Flax – Hesperolinon disjunctum

Blooms:

Apr–July

Plant Height:

10–40 cm

Flower Size:

Very small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Dry slopes on serpentine in the Diablo Range

Notes:

A small, delicate, much-branched plant.  Its many small, pink-veined white flowers are borne on short pedicels (generally 1–5 mm).  Petals are 4–6 mm, widely spreading.  Filaments and style are exserted.

Narrow-leaved Flax – Linum bienne

Blooms:

Mar–June

Plant Height:

20–100 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Eurasia

Habitat:

Grassy slopes near coast

Notes:

A delicate flower with white to pale blue petals, 6–10 mm long, sometimes found in profusion.  The 5 stamens have conspicuous blue anthers, and meet at the tips. Pedicels are 5–18 mm long.  Leaves are narrow, and more or less appressed to the upper part of the stem.

Red Flowering Flax – Linum grandiflorum

Blooms:

Apr–June

Plant Height:

20–50 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

North Africa

Habitat:

Garden escape

Notes:

The bright red flower is unmistakably a flax (the flower in the first photo is not fully open). It is an occasional garden escape.

Common Flax – Linum usitatissimum

Blooms:

Apr–May

Plant Height:

20–100 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Eurasia

Habitat:

Garden escape

Notes:

Similar to Narrow-leaved Flax (Linum bienne, see above), but it has darker blue and larger flowers, with petals 10–15 mm long.  Sepals may be minutely hairy on the margins, and the style is elongated, linear to club-shaped.  The 5 stamens have conspicuous blue anthers, and meet at the tips.  This plant could be mistaken for the native Western Blue Flax (Linum lewisii, not shown), but it has sepals that are not hairy, and a stigma that is head-like rather than elongated.