It’s been a while since we’ve had a species from a vascular plant family not previously featured on Botany Photo of the Day, so I’m grateful to Josh aka gravitywave@Flickr for sharing this photograph of a member of the Linaceae, or the flax family (submitted via the UBC BG Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool | original). Thank you!
The Linaceae are divided into two broad groups: the Linoideae (such as today’s Linum), which are herbs (or rarely shrubs) with a worldwide distribution, and the Hugonioideae, which are tropical woody plants (and often climbers).
The genus Linum is estimated to have roughly two hundred species. These are native to north temperate and subtropical regions, with an abundance of species around the Mediterranean. In North America, native Linum can be found in all states, provinces and territories. Linum lewisii var. lewisii, commonly known as Lewis’ flax or prairie flax, is native to much of western and central North America, as well as northern Mexico.
The Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago has a scientific description of Linum lewisii, as well as additional photographs at the bottom of the page. CalPhotos also has an assortment of images: Linum lewisii.
The flax of cultivation for linseed oil and fibres is Linum usitatissimum.