Herbs & Plants

Iris germanica

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Botanical Name : Iris germanica
Family: Iridaceae
Subfamily: Iridoideae
Tribe: Irideae
Genus: Iris
Subgenus: Iris
Section: Iris
Species: I. germanica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales

*Iris × alba’ (Savi)
*’Iris × amoena’ * ‘Iris × atroviolacea’ (Lange)
*’Iris × australis’ (Tod.)
*’Iris × belouinii’ (Bois & Cornuault)
*’Iris × biliottii’ (Foster)
*’Iris × buiana’ (Prodán)
*’Iris × buiana va

Common Names: Purple Flag, German iris, Orris-root, Tall Bearded German Iris, Bearded Iris
Habitat: The original habitat is obscure, it is probably of hybrid origin. It grows in the dry rocky places.
Iris germanica is a perennial flowering plant growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 1.5 m (5ft) at a medium rate. It is a European hybrid, rather than a true wild species. The roots can go up to 10 cm deep and it is a rhizomatous perennial that blooms mid to late spring. If is known to produce the isoflavone irilone. Hundreds of hybrids exist representing nearly every colour from jet black to sparkling whites, except bright scarlet. Varieties include I. g. var. florentina and I. g. var. germanica.

It is not frost tender. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Massing, Rock garden, Specimen. A very easily grown plant that tolerates considerable neglect, it prefers a sunny position in a well-drained soil that contains some lime. Grows well in dry soils in light deciduous shade. Succeeds in full sun or partial shade. Prefers a pH in the range 6 to 7.5 or higher. Many named varieties have been selected for their ornamental value. The plant is also sometimes cultivated for the essential oil in its root. The plant is sterile and does not produce seed. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits. Special Features:Not North American native, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Attracts butterflies, Suitable for cut flowers, Fragrant flowers.
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed should be sown as early in the year as possible in a cold frame. A sterile plant, it does not produce seed. Division, best done after flowering. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.
Edible Uses: The root is dried and used as a flavouring.

Medicinal Uses:
Diuretic; Emetic; Expectorant; Purgative.

The root is diuretic, emetic, expectorant and mildly purgative. Another report says that the juice of the fresh root is a strong purge of great efficiency in the treatment of dropsy. In the past, sections of the dried root have been given to teething babies to chew on, though this has been discontinued for hygienic reasons. Roots of plants 2 – 3 years old are dug up after flowering and are then dried for later use.
Other Uses:
Baby care; Beads; Cosmetic; Dye; Essential.

The root is a source of Orris powder which has the scent of violets. It is obtained by grinding up the dried root. It is much used as a fixative in perfumery and pot-pourri, as an ingredient of toothpastes, breath fresheners etc and as a food flavouring. The root can take several years of drying to fully develop its fragrance, when fresh it has an acrid flavour and almost no smell. An essential oil is obtained from the fresh root, this has the same uses as the root. The juice of the root is sometimes used as a cosmetic and also for the removal of freckles from the skin. A black dye is obtained from the root. A blue dye is obtained from the flowers. The seeds are used as rosary beads.

Known Hazards: The leaves, and especially the rhizomes, of this species contain an irritating resinous substance called irisin. If ingested this can cause severe gastric disturbances. Plants can cause skin irritations and allergies in some people.


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