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Grooved Flax (Linum sulcatum)

Grooved Yellow Flax or Grooved Flax
Linum sulcatum
(Order Linales, Family Linaceae)

Linum sulcatum (photos by Emmy Dudeck)
(Kansas: Sedgwick County, Waste Management Site, 37.85272°N 97.18414°W. In restored prairie. June 26, 2013)

Height: 10-32 inches tall
Stems: Erect, branched above the middle, longitudinally grooved, glabrous, and pale green.
Leaves: Simple, alternate, tiny leaves. They are linear to narrowly lanceolate and about ½ inch to 1 inch in length. The width is about 1/8 of an inch.
Inflorescence: Panicles and terminal.
Flowers: Typically the flowers are only around ½ inch with 5 pale yellow petals, 5 stamens, and 5 sepals. The sepals are glandular-toothed and lanceolate shaped with pointed tips. The petals typically last only a day and any slight disturbance can cause the petals to fall off.
Fruits: Typically spherical to egg-shaped capsules. They have 10 segments and only 1 seed per segment. The seeds are reddish-brown, small, and elliptical shaped.

Linum sulcatum (photos by Emmy Dudeck)

Flowering Period: During May, June, and July.
Habitat: Typically found in dry, sandy, open prairies or open woodlands.
Etymology: The specific epithet comes from Latin and means “Furrowed line or flax.”
Conservation status: Not threatened in Kansas.
Native Status: Native to the United States.

Distribution of Linum sulcatum in the United States. Light green indicates that the species is present and not rare; light brown indicates that the species is not present in the state. From the BONAP website:

Visitors: Native bees show a common interest in this flower and aid with pollination.

Fun Fact: This plant is toxic. The leaves and seeds are especially so. Sheep are the most susceptible.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center:

USDA Plant Profile:

Biota of North America Program:

KS Wildflower:

Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. University Press of Kansas. Lawrence, Kansas. 564 pp.

Bare, Janet E. 1979. Wildflowers and Weeds of Kansas. The Reagents Press of Kansas. Lawrence, Kansas. 199-200 pp.

Rogers, C. Marvin. 1963. Yellow Flowered Species of Linum in Eastern North America. The New York Botanical Garden Press. Bronx, New York. 97-122 pp.

Submitted by: Emmy Dudeck, July 2013.

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