Blue flax, prairie flax, Lewis flax
All the western and Great Plains states
Between 4 and 30 inches
Dry hillsides, grassland, semi-deserts; open or partially shaded locations, up to 12,000 feet
Narrowly lanceolate, alternate, up to one inch long. Hairless
Flowerheads of linum lewisii have five overlapping blue, pale purple or whitish petals, and measure 1.25 inches in diameter. The short, narrow, grey-green leaves grow at closely spaced intervals along the stem, in an alternate, spiral arrangement, and mostly point upwards, becoming gradually smaller higher up.
Flowers form open clusters, typically with 4 to 6 heads, though sometimes many more; the number is dependant on the amount of sunshine. Underneath the petals are five green sepals, while at the center are a group of stamens and styles. Stems are tall (up to 3 feet), but weak, often bending under the weight of the relatively large flowers. Flowers tend to remain open just during the morning. Fruits are egg-shaped, banded light green to almost white, and have one or more brown filaments at the tip - the remains of the stigmas.