The flax flower, popularly known as common flax is far from common. Also known as Linum Usitatissimum or Linseed, it is a member of the Linaceae family. It appears to have been cultivated from the wild species, Linum Bienne or pale flax. It is not simply a pretty flower. The Flax flower meaning comes from its practicality. From high nutrition to textiles to gorgeous blooms, it is infinitely useful. In Latin, Usitatissimum means ‘most useful’.
With a tall, airy stem and bright, blue blooms, the flax flower grows densely, often reaching up to a height of 3 ft (91.44 cm). Native to Europe and Asia, this flower thrives in sun and well-drained, light soil. The best season to cultivate flax is spring and summer.
The stem of the flax has a soft fiber. Around a month after blooming, the lower part of the stem turns yellow and the foliage drops. Before the seed capsules develop, the stem can be harvested to make cloth fabric. The textile made from the fiber is called linen. It is 2 to 3 times as strong as cotton fiber. Linen was widely used in earlier times. But cotton gained popularity during the 20th century as a cheap and durable fabric. After that, the importance of flax fiber decreased drastically. A comfortable and soft fabric, linen has found a new significance in today’s fabric industry. The harvesting of fibers is not done by home gardeners as the process is complicated.
The seed, flax seed, is considered a super food, packed with the essential fatty acid Omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acid has been known to improve cardiac and digestive health, lower blood pressure, and bad cholesterol. The seeds also have the component lignans, which has anti-oxidant qualities. They have 800 times more lignans than other plant foods. Flax seeds produce a vegetable oil known as linseed oil. It is used as a nutritional supplement and a drying oil in paints and varnishes. It is also used in products like linoleum and printing inks, and as cattle feed.
The oldest evidence of humans using this flower can be traced to the present country of Georgia. Remains of textiles, spun, dyed, and knotted from flax fibers, have been found there, inside a cavern. Dating back to 30,000 years ago, the cave had preserved relics from the Upper Paleolithic era. Around 9,000 years ago, the flax flower was first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent region. Slowly the use of this flower spread as far as Switzerland and Germany. Egypt is another country where use of flax flower could be found extensively. The temples had paintings of this flower, and the mummies were embalmed in linen. The flax flower was a symbol of purity for the Egyptians.
There are two types of flax plants, perennial and annual. Although they both have similar yield of oil in terms of quantity and quality, annuals release seeds 2-3 times more than perennials. The perennials are grown for ornamental uses, in gardens, window boxes, containers or any sunny area at home. Annuals are mostly cultivated for commercial use, to produce flax seed and fiber.
What do Flax flower symbolize?
Flax flower meaning and symbolization depicts the home. The story behind its symbolism dates back to the Victorian age. There is a popular folktale surrounding the flax. It so happened that once, the Goddess Bertha enticed a poor farmer to a magical cave. The cave was filled with gold and precious stones. Bertha stood in the middle of the room, as a beautiful queen, with a bouquet of flax flowers in her hand. She asked the farmer to wish for anything his heart desired. She will grant it to him. Despite being poor, the farmer did not crave the jewels or gold. He wished to have the flowers that she was holding. As promised, she gave him a bag of flax seeds and later, taught his wife to sow them and make cloth yarn from them.
The tale gave the idea that the seeds were needed to be spun to make the fabric. As spinning is associated with women, it represented the domestic setting of life. The flax flower meaning took root from it. It made a name for itself as a domestic symbol.
There can be found a few other flax flower meaning and symbolism throughout history.
In Ancient Egypt, the flax symbolized purity. The priests wore only linen. The seeds were also considered crucial to the after-life. They have been found inside the tombs.
In biblical times, linen was a symbol of purity. Wearing of linen was a symbolism of righteousness and holiness. Biblical scholars speculated that God looked upon linen as a fiber untainted by blood. No animal has to be slain to obtain linen.
What do the various colors of the Flax flower mean?
The colors and flax flower meaning associated with them are few. Flax flowers are usually blue, with shades of lilac and purple, too. Other colors of flax flower that we can find are yellow or golden and red. There are around 6 types of flax flowers.
Linum Perenne or Blue Flax:
This is perennial flax, native to regions of England and the Alps. The flowers are pale blue with yellow centers. There are two types of Linum Perennee plants: Linum Perenne Sapphire and Linum Perenne Appar. Sapphire blue flax is a popular flax flower due to its long bloom time. Appar Blue Flax is dwarf-sized flax with flowers of brilliant blue hue. It is perfect for gardens.
Interesting facts and characteristics of the Flax flower
There are so many stories attached to the flax flower.
· Every part of the plant is useful, making it a very stable and sustainable crop.
· Flax plant is cultivated for its seeds, fiber, and for ornamental use.
· The fabric, linen, made from its stem, is naturally anti-bacterial and helps reduce bacterial and fungal growth.
· The flax seeds are heavy in fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids.
· Having flax seeds on a regular basis may help prevent some forms of Cancer.
· The seed of the flax plant is poisonous in its raw form. However, when cooked, it is extremely nutritious.
· The oil extracted from the seeds is one of the oldest known commercial oil.
· The flax seed oil also provides relief in coughs, colds, sore throats, inflammations, burns, and more.
· The common flax is also used to make eyewash to soothe irritated eyes.
· The oil is known to have calming and soothing effect on people, helping with depression and anxiety.
· The roots of the plant are used to make an infusion which strengthens eye-sight.
· The vegans or people with egg allergies can use the ground flax seed as egg substitute.
· Modern food like crackers and oat meals has ground flax seed in them.
· The fiber made from its stem is also used to make paper, baskets, mats, strings, nets, etc.
· Flax is an emblem of Northern Ireland. It appeared on the reverse of the British one-pound coin to represent Northern Ireland on coins.
· Flax is Belarus’s National Flower.
· The bright blue flowers of the flax plant appear on the emblem of Belarus.
· Belarus has folk songs in its honor.
· The conditions in Belarus are perfect for flax cultivation. The people there have been growing flax for more than 200 years.
Best time to gift someone Flax flowers
As flax flower meaning and symbolization represents purity and domestication, they can be given to newlyweds to honor their new home. They can be added in bridal bouquets and in wedding decorations. There is no particular time to gift the flax flowers. They can be gifted on any occasion, adding an azure pop to a bouquet.
Growing densely in gardens and meadows, the flax flowers make a vibrant blue backdrop. The blanket of blue flowers often looks as if the sky has descended upon the garden. They can be grown in large drifts to mimic their natural carpet-like growth. Flax flowers are well-suited in the front of perennial borders, rock gardens, meadows, cottage garden settings, and curbside.
Maddie Forbes is a writer and freelance digital marketer who loves working from home in her pajamas a little more than she would like to admit. She spends her days writing about the things she loves, such as social media, entrepreneurship, and flowers. She attributes her love for fresh flowers to her mother’s lively garden, where she used to watch her mom tend to the flowers with care. When she is not busy working and writing in front of her laptop, you can find her in her very own garden, making sure her flowers are loved, watered, weed-free, and receiving plenty of sunlight.
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