Glossary of Flowers: I


The Iris is the ‘Fleur de Lys’ emblem of France. A plant of the Iridaceae family of perennial herbs, which includes the crocuses, freesias, and gladioli, it has sword-shaped leaves and beautiful blue flowers. The iris family is closely related to the lily and amaryllis families, differing from them in having three stamens rather than six.

The many species of wild iris are most common in temperate and sub arctic regions of North America, where they are often called flags, or blue flags.

Among the many varieties, there is the Siberian Iris, the Grass-leaved flag, the slender-Blue Flag Iris and the wild Iris. The plant is named after the goddess, ‘Iris,’ because of the beauty and variety of colours in the flowers of the genus. In Greek mythology, Iris was the messenger goddess who travelled on the rainbow path between the realms of Humans and the Gods. The flower ‘iris’ indicates a message; a promise of hope. Iris is popularly associated with wisdom and valour. Iris, in Greek mythology, goddess of the rainbow; is the daughter of Electra and Thaumas. She was often represented as a messenger of Zeus and Hera.

From ancient times the stately Iris stood as a symbol of power and majesty. This flower was dedicated to Juno. Interestingly, it is thought that it was the origin of the scepter. The Egyptians placed it on the brow of the Sphinx and on the sceptre of their kings, the three leaves of its blossoms typifying faith, wisdom and valour.

Many of the Flag Irises have a considerable reputation for their medicinal virtues. In all the species belonging to this genus, the roots are believed to possess of cathartic and emetic properties.

Irises are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, and order Liliales, family Iridaceae.