Back to Biodiversity Explorer main pageGo to Iziko Museums of Cape Town home pageAbout Biodiversity Explorer - history, goals, etc.Send us your questions about southern African biodiversityPeople who have contributed content and images.Search Biodiversity Explorer

Family: Linaceae (flax, linseed family)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid I > Order: Malpighiales

There are 12 genera and about 300 species worldwide (cosmopolitan) of which two genera and 15 species are native to southern Africa, and a further one genus and six species are cultivated in the region.

Genera native to southern Africa

List from Bredenkamp (2000).


A total of 35 species (mainly Old World tropics), with one species, Hugonia orientalis, native to southern Africa. See Flora of Zimbabwe.


Linum (flax and linseed genus)

About 230 species (temperate and subtropical regions worldwide), of which 14 species are native to southern Africa and a further five species are cultivated in the region. Linum usitatissimum (Flax; Linseed), is one of the species cultivated and yields flax from the stem fibres and linseed oil from the seeds.


Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002).


Yellow flax (Reinwardtia indica), which is native from India to China, is cultivated in southern Africa.



  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated plants of southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.

  • Bredenkamp, C.L. 2000. Linaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 337-338. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.


Contact us if you can contribute information or images to improve this page.

Biodiversity Explorer home   Iziko home   Search