Iris, the Goddess of the Rainbow was said to be the messenger of the gods and acted as a link between heaven and earth via rainbows. Hence, the word Iris is Greek for rainbow.
During the Middle Ages: Iris became linked to the French monarchy, hence, the Fleur-de-lis became Frances national symbol. The Japanese culture see it as a way of purifying evil energise and protects the wearer.
There are 325 species of Iris with some 50,000 varieties that come in two groups; the bearded and the unbearded. They can grow as high as 5 feet tall, down to 8 inches. Given the two beard groups due to the lower petals that droop looking like a beard. Iris blooms range in colour from traditional shades of purple and blue to yellow, white, pink, red, chartreuse, brown and nearly black. Popular in most countries with their three pronged petals adding a touch of difference in colour and texture.
The Iris is a symbol of Royalty, faith, wisdom, hope and valour and is the flower of choice for a 25th Wedding Anniversary.
Medicinal uses are many. The roots are used to treat skin infections, stomach problems, dropsy and syphilis and to purge the liver. Yellow iris can treat dandruff. White iris to treat asthma and bronchitis to name a few remedies.
The roots contain the perfume or fragrance. They are dried and ground into a powder commonly called Orris Root and can be found in potpourri mixes and dried herbs in many countries.
The Iris grows everywhere here in NZ; gardens, kerbsides, parks, sometimes streams. They are sort after for their odd shape and colour, something different to the round flowers of spring.
Disclaimer: This article is written from my view as a keen gardener and florist for many years. Plant origin and medicinal values are a compact compilation of my research and personal use. Gift presentations and ideas eventuated and are related to NZ lifestyle and celebrations.