Common flax or linseed Common (Linum usitatissimum ), illustration

Lein ' (Linum ) or flax is a genus of plants of the family of Flax ( Linaceae ) with around 200 species.


It is an annual or biennial or perennial herbaceous plants, subshrubs or shrubs, some of them evergreen, with erect stems. You have sessile, ganzrandige leaves, stipules usually absent.

The short-lived flowers are fünfzählig and radial symmetry, grown usually free, sometimes at the root and blossom blue, yellow, red, pink or white. The zehnfächrigen fruit capsules each contain a black or brown seeds in each compartment.


Lein found in the temperate and subtropical regions of both hemispheres.


The " flax genus " is the largest in the family of Flax and is classified in the tribe there Linoideae.

The internal classification of the genus is not made, even though she was always intensively. Especially for the American species was for decades a system of Artkomplexen and groups in use. As a reference for the entire genus therefore still serves H. Winkler division of the genus into six sections from 1931, reproduced here in a by Axel Diederichsen and Ken Richards slightly updated version. The frequently cited in the literature section Eulinum is split here on the two sections Linum and Dasylinum. The following system is at the species level is not complete, but only performs some example ways:

  • Section Linum ( large flowered; petals grow straight, blue, pink or white; scars longer than wide; Leaves alternate, drüsenlos, bald) Alpen- Lein (. Linum alpinum Jacq ), arrives in Europe in the mountains before: the Pyrenees, Alps, Apennines, Rhodope Mountains and Ural.
  • Linum altaicum Ledeb. ex Juz. , occurs in Central Asia and Western Siberia.
  • Linum amurense Alef. , Occurs in East Asia, China and Japan.
  • Austrian flax ( Linum austriacum L.), in the Mediterranean comes in nine different subspecies, ranging in its spread from North Africa to Central Europe, Middle East, Caucasus and western Siberia.
  • Linum baicalense Juz. , Occurs in Siberia and Mongolia.
  • Two-year flax ( Linum bienne Mill, Syn. Linum angustifolium Huds ), also called Wildlein, comes in the Mediterranean area before, to from North Africa to the UK, the Crimea and Iran.
  • Linum decumbens Desf. , Is found in the Mediterranean.
  • Red Flax, also Prachtlein (Linum grandiflorum Desf. ), Is found in the Mediterranean, particularly in Algeria.
  • Lorraine flax ( Linum leonii FW Schultz ), occurs only in central Europe to France.
  • Linum lewisii Pursh
  • Linum meletonis Hand. - Mazz.
  • Linum mesostylum Juz. , Occurs in Central Asia.
  • Linum monogynum G. Forst. , Occurs in New Zealand.
  • Linum narbonense L., occurs in the Mediterranean region and North Africa.
  • Perennial Flax ( Linum perenne L.), comes from Europe prior to Siberia and is naturalized in North America.
  • Linum sibiricum DC.
  • Common flax ( Linum usitatissimum L.), also known as flax and Kulturlein, the area of its origin is unknown, but the type is probably derived from Linum bienne.
  • Section Dasylinum ( as Linum, leaves or flower stalks but hairy, always persevering ) Linum bungei Boiss.
  • Villi - flax ( Linum hirsutum L.), occurs in seven different subspecies in the Mediterranean.
  • Linum hypericifolium Salisb. , Occurs in Asia Minor.
  • Sticky flax ( Linum viscosum L.), is found in Europe.
  • Section Linastrum ( as Linum, flowers but small and usually yellow) Linum appressum A. Caballero ( subsp as subspecies. Appressum (provided suffruticosum A. Caballero ) Rivas Martinez Linum )
  • Linum chamissonis differences
  • Linum corymbulosum Rchb. , Occurs in southern Europe.
  • Linum karataviense Pavlov
  • Linum keniense T.C.E. Fr
  • Linum macraei Benth., Is found in South America.
  • Beach - flax ( Linum maritimum L.), is found in the Mediterranean.
  • Linum paposanum Phil
  • Linum setaceum bread., Occurs only in Spain, the Balearic Islands and Morocco.
  • Linum strictum L., occurs in the Mediterranean.
  • Linum suffruticosum L., comes in the Mediterranean in three different subspecies, including: Linum suffruticosum subsp. salsoloides ( Lam.) Rouy, Syn Linum salsoloides Lam.
  • Section Cathartolinum ( as Linum, but scars thickened at the end) Purgier - flax ( Linum catharticum L.)
  • Linum rigidum Pursh
  • Linum sulcatum Riddell
  • Section Syllinum ( as Linum, but fused petals as bud, yellow or white; leaves at the base with glands ) Linum album Boiss., Occurs in the Middle East.
  • Linum arboreum L., occurs only in Greece, in the Aegean and in Asia Minor.
  • Linum campanulatum L., occurs only in Spain, France and Italy.
  • Linum capitatum Schultes, occurs in Europe.
  • Linum cariense Boiss., Occurs only in Asia Minor.
  • Linum dolomiticum Borbás, comes in only one place in Hungary dolomite ago.
  • Linum elegans Boiss., Occurs only on the Balkan Peninsula.
  • Yellow Flax ( Linum flavum L.), comes from Europe prior to Turkey and the Caucasus.
  • Linum mucronatum Bertol. , Comes in Southwest Asia, comprising six different subspecies.
  • Linum nodiflorum L., occurs in the Mediterranean.
  • Linum pamphylicum Boiss. & Heldr. ex Planch.
  • Linum persicum Planchon
  • Linum tauricum Willd., Occurs in six different subspecies in the Mediterranean.
  • Linum thracicum Degen, occurs only on the Balkan Peninsula.
  • Linum vuralianum Yilmaz & Kaynak
  • Section Cliococca (Will also regarded as a separate genus Cliococca: petals shorter than sepals, South America, monotypic) Linum selaginoides Lam., Also Cliococca selaginoides ( Lam.) CM Rogers & Mildner

Linum pubescens

Linum strictum

Narrow- flax ( Linum tenuifolium )

Sticky flax ( Linum viscosum )


See also: flax fiber, linen industry

Some species ( Common Flax, Perennial flax, two year old flax ) or were used for fiber production. The history of its use goes back 6,000 to 10,000 years so that is the kind flax some of the oldest cultivated plants. In addition to the textile use Leinarten are also used as technical fibers as medicinal plants (for example Purgier flax ), as food ( flaxseed ) and for the production of linseed oil with many uses (for example, oil paint ).

Cultural History

The most important oil seed crops in prehistoric central Europe were flax and poppy seeds. Given the relatively low detectability - Flaxseed inflate the charring and are hardly recognizable as fragments - may have been greater their importance, as it suggests the lost image. Camelina ( Camelina sp.) Seems to have grown with the flax on common surfaces. When flax can be on the seeds not tell if it was used as linseed or flax. Finds from boring in the Rhineland and Eisenberg, Thuringia suggest that it is Springlein (Linum usitatissimum subsp. Crepitans Elladi ). Rheinische stock findings give hints on Schließlein ( threshing linseed ) ( Linum usitatissimum subsp. Usitatissimum ). The seeds show evidence shows that the flax was grown separately from other crops and used as a fat supplier.

The flax is more common in the Western Pottery and comes with sparing of Bohemia just west front of the Elbe. At the Near Eastern origin of Kulturleins is, however, no doubt. The wild form is common in zirkummediterranen room and in front and Central Asia. In Central Europe, it is now cultivated as Sommerlein, only in the foothills of the Alps as Winterlein, as in the past. In the Middle Neolithic flax is found less frequently. In the Rhineland and in the Michel Berger culture, he is completely absent during this time.

The young - to Late Neolithic history of the flax is particularly well researched on Lake Zurich. His rise began during the recent Pfyn Culture. It reached its peak in the Horgen culture and remained during the Corded Ware at a relatively high level. Was similar its spread on Lake Constance. In Jung and Late Neolithic of Federseemuseum area in the Pfyn- Altheimer - culture and in the Goldberg III- Group, excessive use has been demonstrated.

Lange was unclear whether seeds and Leinstengel have already been used in the Linear Pottery period. A fountain Fund in Mohelnice at Brno supplied cords of flax fibers. In the Levant flax early as the 8th millennium BC ( PPNB ) was processed into textiles. In the southern Carpathian basin in the second quarter of the 5th millennium BC. For the young and the Late Neolithic double use of the flax as a fiber and food crop is secured. The use of fibers is attested by finds of Flachshecheln of bones and especially of textiles made ​​from flax and networks that have been preserved in the wet ground settlements of the Alpine foothills.