Flax
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Basic Information

Flax is blue flowered, fibrous plant whose Latin name (Linum usitatissimum) asserts that it is the "most useful". There is a certain amount of truth to this assertion.

The best known use of flax is as a fibre crop - the woody fibres of its stem are the core raw material of linen and can also serve in cruder cloths, cord and rope and high quality paper. Until it was displaced by cheap cotton in the early C20, crops of flax being "retted" (wet-rotted to seperate the fibres) were a common (and malodrous) sight throughout much of the world …. or at least the cooler climates where flax thrives. Linen in particular was Europe's key high quality cloth, especially for the making of underwear, bedclothes and similar things (many of which are still known as "linen") for which woollen cloth might not serve.

Flax seed can also be consumed as a grain or pressed to produce linseed oil - a common wood preservative, fixative for paints and ingredient in herbal medicines. The oil can also be used as a fuel and a food oil, although some people have been known to encounter toxic effects from consuming large quantities.

For many applications hemp is a key competitor to flax, often with very little to choose between the two (although flax lacks the recreational properties of some hemp cultivars).

Sources

Bibliography
1. full source reference

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