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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Linum (flax genus)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid I > Order: Malpighiales > Family: Linaceae

About 230 species (temperate and subtropical regions worldwide), of which 14 species are native to southern Africa and a further five species are cultivated in the region. Linum usitatissimum (Flax; Linseed), is one of the species cultivated and yields flax from the stem fibres and linseed oil from the seeds.

Species native to southern Africa

List from Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI) and Flora of Zimbabwe.

Linum acuticarpum


Linum adustum


Linum aethiopicum


Linum africanum


Linum brevistylum


Linum comptonii


Linum esterhuyseniae


Linum gracile


Linum heterostylum


Linum pungens


Linum quadrifolium


Linum thesioides


Linum thunbergii

Linum villosum


Other species, cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002)

Linum flavum

Native to Europe.

Linum grandiflorum (Flowering flax)

Native to North Africa.


Linum lewisii

Native to North America.


Linum perenne (Perennial flax)

Native to Europe and North America.


Linum usitatissimum (Flax)

Probably native to Asia and cultivated in southern Africa. Flax is derived from the stem fibers, which are durable and of high tensile strength; linseed oil is derived from the seeds and is used in the manufacture of paints, varnishes and printing ink.


  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated Plants of Southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.