Shades of purple, hints of yellow,
Lavender and violet hues,
Regal, royal Irises,
Proud, Spring flowers on review.
Flags unfurled at full-mast,
Sword-shaped leaves unsheathed,
Stand tall, and line the path,
Banners blowing in the breeze.
By Virginia Ellis
This native of Europe is a popular garden addition. The name “Bearded” refers to the presence of a furry strip on each of three drooping, petal-like sepals, called falls. The plant is named after the rainbow goddess, ‘Iris,’ from the beauty and variety of colors in the flowers of the genus.
Also called Orris Root they are grown in Tuscany and other parts if Italy. The Iris is treated with great care, and the ground is cared for and weeded carefully about each plant by the barefoot women. In the fall the plants are just as carefully dug up, trimmed and dried. It can take several years of drying to fully develop the fragrance of the roots. The roots take on the scent of Violets. An essential oil is extracted from the fresh roots.
The iris has since ancient time, been used for purification. As in Roman times the fresh flowers can be placed in an area to be cleansed. The three petals of the flower symbolize faith, wisdom, and valor.
A black dye can be obtained from the root, while a blue dye can be had from the flowers. Sometimes the seeds are used as rosary beads.