Linum lewisii – Lewis Flax

Linum lewisii - Lewis Flax, Prairie Flax, Western Blue Flax

Linum lewisii - Lewis Flax, Prairie Flax, Western Blue Flax

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Linum lewisii

Synonym: Linum perenne ssp. lewisii

Common Names: Lewis Flax, Prairie Flax, Western Blue Flax

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial

Growth Habit: Subshrub, Herb/Forb

Arizona Native Status: Native

Habitat: Desert (upper), Upland, Mountain. This attractive wildflower mainly grows in upland areas, but it can also be found in higher elevation desert areas.

Flower Color: Blue, White

Flowering Season: Spring, Summer

Height: To 3 feet (91 cm) tall

Description: The flowers are up to 2 inches (5 cm) across and homostylous (styles of all the same length) and have 5 broad, fan-shaped petals, styles longer than the stamens, 5 arrowhead-shaped anthers, and 5 spherical stigmas. The leaves are single-veined and linear to lanceolate in shape.

The similar Meadow Flax (Linum pratense) grows at lower elevations and has narrower, very pale blue petals and shorter styles.

Special Characteristics

Edible – The seeds are edible, but only if cooked. The raw, uncooked seeds are poisonous. The cooked seeds have a nutty flavor and a high oil content.

Poisonous – Although the plants and raw, uncooked seeds contain a cyanogenetic substance (a substance capable of making cyanide) and are somewhat poisonous, animals will feed on the foliage and seeds, but they do avoid the fruit.


Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Linales
Family: Linaceae – Flax family
Genus: Linum L. – flax
Species: Linum lewisii Pursh – Lewis flax

More About This Plant

Arizona County Distribution Map