Herbs & Plants

Iris japonica

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Botanical Name: Iris japonica
Family: Iridaceae
Genus: Iris
Subgenus: Limniris
Section: Lophiris
Species: I. japonica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales


* Evansia chinensis (Curtis) Salisb.
* Evansia fimbriata (Vent.) Decne.
* Evansia japonica (Thunb.) Klatt
* Iris chinensis Curtis
* Iris fimbriata Vent.
* Iris japonica f. japonica (none known)
* Iris japonica f. pallescens P.L.Chiu & Y.T.Zhao
* Iris squalens Thunb. [Illegitimate]
* Moraea fimbriata (Vent.) Loisel.
* Xiphion fimbriatum (Vent.) Alef.
Common Names: Fringed iris, Shaga or Butterfly flow

Habitat : Iris japonica is a native of China and Japan. It grows on woodland hills, grassy and rocky slopes and among rocks by streams.

Iris japonica is a rhizomatous perennial plant, with pale blue, lavender or white flowers with an orange or yellow crest. It is cultivated as an ornamental plant in temperate regions. It has wiry, stout stems, that can grow up to between 25–80 cm (10–31 in) tall. It has 5-12 short, slender branches, (or pedicels) near top of the plant. The stiff pedicels can reach between 1.5–2.5 cm (1–1 in) long. The flowering stem (and branches) grow higher than the leaves. The stems have 3-5 spathes (leaves of the flower bud), which are lanceolate, and 9.5–2.2 cm (4–1 in) long.


The flowers are like Iris cristata flowers but paler and fancier. The short lasting flowers open in succession (one after another), for between 2, and 5 weeks. These flowers have a clove pinks aroma.

The flattish, flowers are 4.5–6 cm (2–2 in) in diameter, and come in shades of pale blue, or pale lavender, or lilac, or purple, to white.

It has 2 pairs of petals, 3 large sepals (outer petals), known as the ‘falls’ and 3 inner, smaller petals (or tepals, known as the ‘standards’). The falls are elliptic or obovate, with a spreading limb and blue or purple/violet blotching, spots, (or dots) around a central yellow signal patch around a visible yellow, or orange crest. They are 2.5–3 cm (1–1 in) long and 1.4–2 cm wide. The standards are elliptic or narrowly obovate. They are 2.8–3 cm (1–1 in) long and 1.5-2.1 cm wide. The standards spreading to the same plane as the falls, creating the ‘flat’ look. All the petals are fringed (fimbriated) around the edges.

It has a 1.1–2 cm long perianth tube, 0.8-1.2 cm long stamens, white anthers and 7-10mm ovary. It has 0.5-0.75 long and pale blue style branches. The terminal lobes are fimbriated (fringed).

After the iris has flowered, between May and June, it produces an ellipsoid-cylindric, non-beaked seed capsule, which is 2.5–3 cm long and 1.2-1.5 cm wide. Inside the capsule, it has dark brown seeds with a small aril.

Prefers a gritty well-drained soil with plenty of moisture in summer and shelter from early morning sun. Prefers a lime-free soil but succeeds in most good soils. Succeeds in full sun or partial shade, but plants flower better in a hot sunny position. Established plants are drought tolerant. Cultivated for its edible root in Japan. A number of named varieties have been selected for their ornamental value. It is best to lift the plant in October, store in sand in a cool frost-free place over winter and plant out in March. Plants have creeping aerial rhizomes that root at intervals. The flowers are susceptible to damage by late frosts, the plants failing to flower after an exceptionally cold winter. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits.

Propagation :
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. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first year. Plant out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Division, best done after flowering in July/August. 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 :
Edible Parts: Root.

Root – the source of an edible starch. Some caution is advised, see the notes below on toxicity.
Medicinal Uses:

The rhizome is used in the treatment of injuries. A decoction of the plant is used in the treatment of bronchitis, internal injuries, rheumatism and swellings.

Other Uses :
Plants can be grown for ground cover when planted about 45cm apart each way.

Known Hazards: Many plants in this genus are thought to be poisonous if ingested, so caution is advised. The roots are especially likely to be toxic. Plants can cause skin irritations and allergies in some people.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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