Wild Blue Flax (Linum lewisii)

I saw 3 skinny Wild Blue Flax plants this morning while adding crusher fines to my pathway.

Wild Blue Flax

Wild Blue Flax

The stems are thin and were bouncing and jouncing around so much in the wind they I couldn’t get a decent photo.  I picked one flower and took a photo.  Each bloom only lasts a day, but new blooms open.

I put a few seeds out last year, and didn’t expect much, but here they are.  I found the seeds nearly 20 miles from here, and there weren’t enough to collect more than a few.  Not more than 30 plants.  Wild Blue Flax are not endangered, just the first colony I had seen here in New Mexico, and I never take many seeds from a small colony.

As delicate as this plant looks, it is durable and can aggressively take over open areas.  Not much of a problem for me, too much shade in my food forest. If it gets aggressive, I will start eating and sprouting the nutritious seeds.  The little darling likes poor and barren soil and don’t I have just the place.

Seems odd, but deer don’t eat Wild Blue Flax and cattle do.  It’s a good protein source for livestock and us.  Native bees love it.

The entire plant has mild medicinal value.

As far as fiber goes, Wild Blue Flax is considered of a bit poorer quality than European annual flax, but First Americans used it in all the same ways, Iincluding a fine paper.  The oil from its seeds are used as linseed oil.  Even three skinny plants prove that I could grow my own clothing right here in my circular economy and food forest.  Never mind grind my oil paints like the Old Masters.

My local fiber group teaches how to spin threads and yarns on a wheel and weave on big looms.  Too bad I am not flush enough to buy the equipment!  Never mind I’d have to have a separate shed to house the loom.  One of the gals raises alpaca, and sells the yarn to other fiber artists. Pretty sure First Americans had a simpler process since they did not haul spinning wheels and looms around.  I have seen a Navajo spindle demonstrated using wool and it is huge compared to a little drop spindle. I may make one in my free time.  I have seen a photograph of a Navajo weaver working from a piece of wood, but it wasn’t very clear.

Meanwhile, I have plenty of knitting needles to turn yarn into afghans and sweaters…as taught by my mom when I was short and ladies were expected to sew, knit, and crochet.  That has devolved into quilt making and afghans!

Colonists wore a linen blend called linsey-woolsey, which I have read about in novels.  I looked it up online and it looks beautiful to me, but it was considered a cheap, coarse cloth that was durable.  Replaced by cotton after the infamous cotton gin made slavery more profitable.  Flax is making a comeback and some northern states are starting to grow the annual cousin again.

All those thoughts just because three scrawny Wild Blue Flax plants are blooming where I planted seed.


About rebeccatreeseed

I am a naturalist raised by naturalists. Treeseed is my earned name, while Rebecca is my birth name. I am of Northern European descent, with a quarter Irish.quarter thrown in. I suspect I was a product of northern invaders into Ireland into Ireland. but hard to say since DNA disproved the family story about Apache blood! I have found some odd ancestors to replace them. Last year I bought 5 acres of pinyon-juniper forest on the side of a mountain in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. I am fulfilling a lifetime dream of a cabin in the mountains and a food forest that will feed me and local wildlife. I want to share this new phase of my life with others that might be interested.
This entry was posted in Circular Economy, food forest, gardening, medicinal plants, permaculture, Prepper, wild edibles. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Wild Blue Flax (Linum lewisii)

  1. Helen says:

    Do you know how to use a drop spindle. I keep forgetting!

    The flax flowers are beautiful. Good news if less cotton is grown.

    At a clothing exhibition last winter, there were clothes from days gone by made from very finely spun wool. I couldn’t believe it – it looked just like linen (only probably didn’t crease as badly!). Seems so sad that we import so much cheap clothing made of non-organic cotton when we could have beautiful, home-grown, organic, woollen garments here. I guess the operative word is ‘cheap’ 😕.

  2. Helen, I don’t know how to use one… yet. I do like the big spindle used by the Navajo, looked easier to use.
    As far as cheap clothing, when you realize that people wore clothing for years, and people sometimes remade things from prior generations, our cheap stuff doesn’t seem so cheap anymore. I have always been interested in these things, but lived in town and worked 60 hours a week. Amazing I even gardener and cooked and knitted and stuff. I wonder about how many hours we spent buying junky products as opposed to making our own things. So many old skills are almost lost. I do notice how much less I need every month as I start doing for myself. My quality of life is improving, for sure. Once I get my beds working, I won’t need to do that part and will have time for other things, like spinning, weaving, knitting, etc. I always garden, but maintenance is easier than creating healthy beds. I read today that it is easy to grow your own flax plants. I might toss out a few European flax seeds to compare, but I like natives that take care of themselves. Lazy me!

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