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Linum usitatissimum - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-088.jpg
Common Flax
Scientific classification
L. usitatissimum
Binomial name
Linum usitatissimum
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Flax seeds

Flax (also known as common flax or linseed) (Linum usitatissimum) is a type of flowering plant.

The fibres of flax are used to make linen. High-quality paper used in banknotes is also made from flax fibres. An oil (linseed oil) can be made from the dried ripe flax seeds. Flax has been used for a long time in such tasks as making bows and candles.


Flax seed and its oil are nontoxic and are safe for human consumption.[1]

However, like many common foods, flax contains small amounts of cyanogenic glycoside.[2] This is nontoxic when eaten in normal amounts. It may be toxic when eaten in large quantities as with staple foods such as cassava.[3] The small percentage of cyanide can be removed by special processing.[4]


  1. Cheeseman MA (24 August 2009). "GRAS Petition by Flax Canada, Agency Response Letter GRAS Notice No. GRN 000280". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 
  2. Cunnane SC, Ganguli S, Menard C, Liede AC, Hamadeh MJ, Chen ZY, Wolever TM, Jenkins DJ (1993). "High alpha-linolenic acid flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum): some nutritional properties in humans". Br J Nutr 69 (2): 443–53. doi:10.1079/bjn19930046 . PMID 8098222 . 
  3. Banea-Mayambu, JP; Tylleskar, T; Gitebo, N; Matadi, N; Gebre-Medhin, M; Rosling, H (1997). "Geographical and seasonal association between linamarin and cyanide exposure from cassava and the upper motor neurone disease konzo in former Zaire". Trop Med Int Health 2 (12): 1143–51. doi:10.1046/j.1365-3156.1997.d01-215.x . PMID 9438470 . 
  4. Singh KK, Mridula D, Rehal J, Barnwal P (2011). "Flaxseed: a potential source of food, feed and fiber". Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 51 (3): 210–22. doi:10.1080/10408390903537241 . PMID 21390942 .