In the Garden
Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor)
*Also known as flag lily and wild iris
Common Flag Iris (I. germanica)
*Also known as German iris
Florentine Iris (I. florentina)
Sweet Flag Iris (I. pallida)
*Also known as Dalmatian iris
The iris flower has three upright petals called “standards” and three lower petals called “falls.” These flowers grow atop stems that reach between two and three feet tall. Some irises have “beards,” which are fuzzy areas on the lower/fall petals. The word flag in the common name comes from the Middle English flagge, meaning “rush” or “reed” because iris leaves resemble rushes.33 There are about two hundred species of iris worldwide.
Blue flag is bluish-purple with narrow standards, and falls with yellow veining. The falls have a central yellow area surrounded by white. Common flag has lilac to purple falls with yellow beards and slightly lighter-colored standards. The Florentine iris is white or pale bluish-gray with yellow beards, and sweet flag is lavender-blue with yellow beards.
Orris root is a powder made from the rhizomes of three types of iris: the Florentine, common, and blue flag. This powder is used as a scent fixative for perfumes and potpourris, and has a violet-like aroma. Used in perfumery by the Greeks and Romans, orris root was also used medicinally through the Middle Ages.
Because of their beauty and variety of colors, the genus of this plant was named for the Greek goddess Iris. She was a messenger for the gods and appeared to mortals as a rainbow. Because Iris also guided souls between the worlds, the Greeks associated this flower with the otherworld.
Place a couple of iris flowers on your altar to engender healing energy. Growing them in your garden or placing a vase of cut flowers in a prominent place in your home invites domestic bliss. Place three flowers where you work to act as a muse that will stimulate your creativity. Burn a dried flower in a spell to bring success. Use orris root powder or pieces of dried rhizome from any species of iris in sachets for love magic or as an amulet for protection. Burn a pinch of rhizome to purify an area.
Iris is associated with the element water. Its astrological influence comes from the moon and Venus. This flower is also associated with the following deities: Hera, Horus, Iris, Isis, and Juno.