Wild Blue Flax is an elegant, semi-evergreen grass with beautiful indeterminate flowers and nutritious seeds.
Wild Blue Flax seeds are edible when cooked. The seeds have a pleasing nutty flavor and high oil content, and can impart flavor to other dishes. They are also very nutritious, being a good source of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, lignans and soluble and insoluble fiber. =
***The seeds should not be consumed RAW in large quantities because they contain cyanide (the cyanide is destroyed by the cooking process).
Wild Blue Flax makes a beautiful addition to the native garden. The flowers emerge in beautiful blues or lavenders, blossoming on many stalks over a 4-6 week period in the early summer. Even after the flowers are gone, the plants will typically stay green through the dry season, adding color and interest to a dryland garden. This quality also makes them a good fit as an understory in fire resistant greenstrip plantings or for erosion control on degraded soil.
Environment and Culture
Wild Blue Flax will grow best on rich, well-drained soils, although it is also known to grow in infertile, disturbed soils. They will tolerate weakly saline to weakly acidic sites. Flax also has excellent cold hardiness and drought tolerance. Plants are usually found in open areas, but will tolerate semi-shaded conditions.
Flax is considered desirable forage for deer, antelope, and birds, either as herbage or seed.
Consider growing Wild Blue Flax as a ground cover with other drought tolerant species such as golden currant, biscuitroot, blue blossom ceanothus, fools onion, and madrone.
Northwest Native American tribes today still value this special plant as food, medicine, and family. Despite great cultural losses, they continue to work towards stewarding and restoring wild populations, both strengthening the integrity of the ecology and sustaining their cultural heritage and wisdom. These strong and recovering peoples and plants deserve our respect, gratitude, and reparations. (Learn more & how to help on our Charitable Giving page.)
Harvest, Care, and Preparation
Harvest the seed from late July to mid August depending on the conditions. The seed capsules should be dry and the seed hard and dark in color. Because the flowering is indeterminate, some unripe seed capsules may be present.
When the seed pods are dry and brown, the stems can be cut, overturned in a bucket and shaken vigorously to free the seed. This can also be done by simply bending the flower stalks (still attached) into the bucket and shaking. Then, use wind, your breath, or a fan to separate the lighter chaff from the heavier seed. Whole seeds can be stored in the fridge for up to a year.
Toast the whole seeds for 5 to 7 minutes to bring out their nutty flavor. Sprinkle on top of salads, yoghurt, oatmeal, etc. Seeds can also be ground into a powder and added to soups, salads and smoothies, or used as a filler in burger patties and meatloaf.
Native Range: Western United States
USDA zones: 3-10
Ease of Care: Easy in the right conditions
Deer Resistance: High
Light Requirements: Full Sun
Soil Type: Well drained pH 6.5-7.5
Water Requirements: Low
Pollination: Self Fertile
Bearing Age: 1-2 years
Size at Maturity: 1-2 ½ Feet Tall
Plant Spacing: 15-18 inches
Bloom Time: Early to mid-summer
Harvest Time: Late summer/early fall
Pot Sizing Guide