Fairy flax

Fairy Flax

©Northeast Wildlife

Fairy flax

Scientific name: Linum catharticum
A small and delicate plant of chalk grasslands, Fairy flax can be seen in bloom from May to September - look out for its nodding, white flowers.

Species information


Height: up to 30cm

Conservation status


When to see

May to September


Fairy flax is a delicate annual of dry grasslands, particularly those on chalky soils, sand dunes and grassy heaths. Its small, white flowers bloom on the end of wiry stems from May to September.
It is a low-growing plant.

How to identify

Fairy flax has long, slender, branched stems with opposite pairs of narrow leaves. Its small, white flowers have five petals and appear at the ends of the stems; they droop when they are in bud.


Found throughout the UK, but common in Southern England.

Did you know?

Fairy flax is also known as 'Purging flax' and was historically used as a laxative by herbalists.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland habitats sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. Careful grazing with traditional breeds, hay-cutting at the right time and scrub clearance are just some of the ways grasslands are kept in good condition. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too, and you'll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.