ETYM AS. fleax.
Any plant of the genus Linum, family Linaceae. The species L. usitatissimum is the cultivated strain; linen is produced from the fiber in its stems. The seeds yield linseed oil, used in paints and varnishes. The plant, of almost worldwide distribution, has a stem up to 60 cm/24 in high, small leaves, and bright blue flowers.
The residue of the seeds is fed to cattle. The stems are retted (soaked) in water after harvesting, and then dried, rolled, and scutched (pounded), separating the fiber from the central core of woody tissue. The long fibers are spun into linen thread, twice as strong as cotton, yet more delicate, and suitable for lace; shorter fibers are used to make twine or paper.
Annual world production of flax fiber amounts to approximately 60,000 metric tons, with Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Latvia accounting for half of the total. Other producers are Belgium, the Netherlands, and N Ireland.
Made into thread and woven into linen fabric.
ETYM AS. lînet flax, hemp, from lîn flax; or, perh. borrowed from Latin linteum a linen cloth, linen, from linteus linen, a., from linum flax, lint. Related to Linen.
1. Cotton or linen fabric with the nap raised on one side; used to dress wounds.
2. Fine ravellings of cotton or linen fibers.