Wild Blue Flax Seeds (Linum lewisii)
This plant is one of the overlooked gems of the West. It’s a fiber plant (like its domesticated cousin) – useful for fabric, nets, cordage, baskets, and more. It produces multitudes of bright sky-blue flowers that open in the early morning for many weeks throughout spring and early summer. It grows among gravel and rocky soils with no complaint. It possesses all the dreamy poetic qualities of beautiful flower that exists in far away lonely places where only the sun and stars gaze upon it.
Largely displaced by cheatgrass and grazing, our wild blue flax is perfectly at home in moderately arid lands from Alaska and the Canadian Plains, southward throughout California, Texas, and Mexico. It’s mostly a plant of alkaline soils, where it grows up to 3-feet tall as a multi-stemmed perennial, preferring full sun conditions (it can tolerate partial shade, but will produce fewer flowers).
Researchers have noted that there is less pollinator activity on blue flax, than on other wildflowers. This is mostly true however we’ve notice that peak flower-insect activity is very early in the morning so it’s likely that pollinator researchers have missed some of the creatures that depend upon this plant. Throughout the heat of the day, pollen-feeding muscoid flies are the frequent flower visitors, along with small Halictid bees. Under high mid-day heat, many of the flowers may even completely close up.
Few other rangeland flowers can compare with the bright, numerous, and showy flowers of wild blue flax. When mass-planted, the effect is like something out of a painting.
1 gram (200 to 300 seeds).