Flax fibres obtained from the stems of the plant Linum usitatissimum are used mainly to make linen. The plant has been used for fibre production since prehistoric times. It grows best at northern temperate latitudes, where moderately moist summers yield fine, strong but silky flax. In Poland, a hectare of Flax plants yields 1.5 to 3.5 tonnes of fibre.
Like Cotton, Flax fibre is a cellulose polymer, but its structure is more crystalline, making it stronger, crisper and stiffer to handle, and more easily wrinkled. Flax fibres range in length up to 90 cm, and average 12 to 16 microns in diameter. They absorb and release water quickly, making linen comfortable to wear in hot weather.
In 2007, the European Union produced 122 000 tonnes of Flax fibre, making it the world’s biggest producer, followed by China with about 25 000 tonnes.
Source: FAO 2009