|1.||any herbaceous plant or shrub of the genus Linum, esp L. usitatissimum, which has blue flowers and is cultivated for its seeds (flaxseed) and for the fibres of its stems: family Linaceae|
|2.||the fibre of this plant, made into thread and woven into linen fabrics|
|3.||any of various similar plants|
|4.||(NZ) Also called: harakeke a swamp plant producing a fibre that is used by Māoris for decorative work, baskets, etc|
|[Old English fleax; related to Old Frisian flax, Old High German flahs flax, Greek plekein to plait]|
(Heb. pishtah, i.e., "peeled", in allusion to the fact that the stalks of flax when dried were first split or peeled before being steeped in water for the purpose of destroying the pulp). This plant was cultivated from earliest times. The flax of Egypt was destroyed by the plague of hail when it "was bolled", i.e., was forming pods for seed (Ex. 9:31). It was extensively cultivated both in Egypt and Palestine. Reference is made in Josh. 2:6 to the custom of drying flax-stalks by exposing them to the sun on the flat roofs of houses. It was much used in forming articles of clothing such as girdles, also cords and bands (Lev. 13:48, 52, 59; Deut. 22:11). (See LINEN.)
(genus Linum usitatissimum), plant of the family Linaceae and its fibre, which is second in importance among the bast fibre (q.v.) group. The flax plant is cultivated both for its fibre, from which linen yarn and fabric are made, and for its seed, called linseed, from which linseed oil is obtained.
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