Iris is a genus of showy, perennial flowering herbs in the iridaceae family. These plants occur in temperate regions of the world and are native to the Middle East, Asia, North America, Europe, and Africa.
[Note: The Right Flowers is not a medical site. Knowledge of and information about the therapeutic benefits and applications of flowers, while known through the ages, does not constitute medical advice. If you are having health issues, you should consult with a physician.]
The genus is named after the Greek rainbow goddess, Irida. Legend holds that the goddess used the rainbow to descend from the heavens to bring the will of the Olympians to the people. Whenever Irida would touch the ground, beautiful iris flowers would spring forth from her footsteps. As if to confirm the legend, iris flowers come in all the rainbow colors.
The flowers are cultivated in gardens for ornamental value due to their showy blossoms. In the language of flowers, the stately iris represents majesty and power. The flowers were placed on the scepter of kings and the brow of the Sphinx with its blossoms to signify wisdom, faith, and valor.
Irises are easy to grow and can thrive in the wild. These plants have the ability to withstand weeds, brush, and encroachment from other plants. They are known to thrive in gardens that have been untended for years.
In spite of their amazing beauty, iris flowers are rarely included in floral arrangements or bouquets because they are very fragile. This explains why not many people are familiar with them compared to roses or morning glories.
Apart from beauty, irises are known for having medicinal uses. Their flowers have been used for ages to treat various conditions including depression. However, the real value of iris flowers lies in the oily scent derived from the plant to make perfumes all over the world. Ancient Rome and Greece were especially good in exploiting the fragrance of the plant for their perfume industry.
Perfumes derived from iris flowers are widely used in aromatherapy to calm nerves and put people to sleep. They are also used to boost moods and alleviate depression. Iris rhizomes are used to help babies during teething while a combination of the flowers and rhizomes are used to flavor alcoholic beverages. Though the iridaceae family has thousands of species, only two species, iris florentina and iris germanica, are used in aromatherapy. Florentina has white flowers while germanica has purple flowers.
The medicinal qualities of the iris plants are attributed to the presence of compounds such as a ketone referred to as irone, a glycoside known as iridin, mucilage, fat, and resin. The plant also contains sufficient levels of vitamins, organic acids, and selenium. These compounds give iris plants emetic, diuretic, and cathartic properties. The oily compounds in the plant also make the plant an ideal skincare product. Extracts from the flowers can be applied topically to manage acne, soothe irritated scalp and strengthen weak, brittle hair.
Iris are majestic, beautiful flowers that are adored around the world. This explains why some florists and gardeners still swear by these flowers. And now that you know they have some medicinal value, why not order some for your garden?