Sunday, June 28, 2015

Pale Flax (Linum bienne)

Pale Flax (Linum bienne) - photos from June 21st 2015, on a roundabout just outside Frome, 

A plant that epitomizes the many transient beauties of midsummer. Driving through the long twilights of that blessed season, one is constantly accompanied by the starry whites of the roadside: Hogweed, Hemlock, Oxeye Daisy, Rough Chervil, Bramble...  But a rarer plant like this is seen only by chance. Once I'd taken the photographs, I never saw it again. It retires into fruit. 

The plants are so slender and leggy that it's hard to contain them in a photograph. 

I'd never noticed these plants before. In the past the species was mainly coastal but it is now spreading and I imagine it could find its own way along the road network to suitably dry verges inland. Or the plants might have originated as part of a "wild seed mix", a popular choice for urban roundabouts nowadays,  but this one is out in the countryside and I didn't see any other sign of exotic "wild flowers".

 Fading flowers and fruit, at the end of bending stems.

Stems, with closely adpressed leaves. 

Flower-colour isn't totally conclusive for distinguishing this species. The 1-3-veined leaves (see close-up below) are another indication. (Cultivated Flax always has 3, Perennial Flax always has 1)



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