Flax (Linum usitatissimum) is a plant grown for seed from which linseed oil is pressed and for fiber for making linen yarn. Linen cloth is woven from yarn produced by spinning flax fibers together.
Flax is among the oldest fiber crops in the world. The use of flax for the production of linen goes back at least 5000 years. Ancient drawing in tombs and on temple walls depict flowering flax plants. The flax fiber is lustrous and flexible. It is superior to cotton in the strength loosely and does not stretch as much. The best grades of flax fibers are used for linen fabrics such as the fine quality cloth of the Shroud of Turin. Lesser grades are used for string and rope.