FAIRY FLAX

PURGING FLAX

Linum catharticum

Flax Family [Linaceae]  

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12th June 2009, A Greenside Mine Leet, Glenridding, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
A short plant with thin wiry stems adopting one of its characteristic poses: a drooping head. Narrow oblong leaves in opposite pairs held upwards and close to the stem.


12th June 2009, A Mine Leet, Glenridding, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Several flower heads held aloft on one plant. Usually five yellow stamens and five pale yellow anthers adorn the centre surrounded by five white petals.


12th June 2009, A Greenside Mine Leet, Glenridding, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Leaves have a central vein.


4th Sept 2010, Shining Tor, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The five sepals are tapered to points.


16th June 2009, Great Orme, Llandudno, North Wales. Photo: © RWD
So short and lost amongst the short limestone turf which it loves growing in (if you looked closely enough, it is almost ubiquitous here) it had to be cut free to get a better look at it.


12th June 2009, A Greenside Mine Leet, Glenridding, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Flowers very indeterminate at first resembling those of Meadow Saxifrage, Sandworts and Pearlworts, or even of non-existent 5-petalled Scurvygrasses.


12th June 2009, A Greenside Mine Leet, Glenridding, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The flower is small, only about 5mm across with five white petals each having four or five translucent veins.


4th Sept 2010, Shining Tor, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Petals are rounded-diamond shaped. Translucent veins very apparent. Five stamens with yellow pollen concentrically surrounding five stigmas.


4th Sept 2010, Shining Tor, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The dead brown, empty shells of the flowerheads create a fuzz looking like a dead grass.


27th June 2015, wildflower area, Knowsley Safari Park, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Developing fruit still with stigma attached.


27th June 2015, wildflower area, Knowsley Safari Park, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Five sepals, not always triangular but often wider near the tip.


27th June 2015, wildflower area, Knowsley Safari Park, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD


4th Sept 2010, Shining Tor, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The dead brown, empty shells of the flowerheads create a fuzz looking like a dead grass.


Some similarities to : Saxifrages particularly Meadow Saxifrage, Pearlworts and Sandworts. If it were not for the presence of five petals and not four it would also strongly resemble some of the Scurvygrasses.

Not to be semantically confused with : Toadflaxes such as Purple Toadflax (Linaria purpurea) [a plant with similar name]

No relation to : Fairy Fern [a plant with similar name] nor to Fairy Foxglove [a plant of very similar name] which is in the Plantain family.

Not to be confused with: Phlox. Flax and Phlox are quite different flowers, Phlox being a low-growing garden ground-cover plant with five petals similarly coloured.

A very short but ubiquitous plant that colonizes short limestone turf. Its stems are very thin and wiry, with a few branches. The flowers are small, about 5mm across, with 5 white petals, 5 yellow stamens and 5 pale yellow anthers adorn the centre.

Fairy Flax (aka Purging Flax) contains the same cyanogenic glycoside Linamarin as does Cultivated Flax.


  Linum catharticum  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Linaceae  

Distribution
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 BSBI maps
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Linum
(Flaxes)

FAIRY FLAX

PURGING FLAX

Linum catharticum

Flax Family [Linaceae]  

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