Plant of the day: flax

This delicate, pale blue flower is a common sight in sunny, grassy areas in the Bay Area. The distinctive form of flax makes it hard to confuse with anything else. Telling one flax from another is very tricky though! To identify Linum bienne versus Linum usitatissimum you need to get out your tweezers and hand lens and see whether the styles (the central female reproductive bits) are fused at the base. If they are not, then you have L. bienne.

Both species look very similar, with delicate petals and the darker veins that streak them being almost lavendar in hue. The five stamens’ anthers are a true, bright blue, and the many needle-like leaves cling closely to the stalk. L. bienne has smaller flowers, about 2cm across instead of 3cm.Sadly, this pretty little flower isn’t native; both species were introduced from the Mediterranean…

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Filed under Non-native, Plant of the day

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