Herbs & Plants

Iris Pseudacorus

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

Synonyms: Iris Aquatica. Iris lutia. Yellow Flag. Yellow Iris. Fleur de Luce. Dragon Flower. Myrtle Flower. Fliggers. Flaggon. Segg. Sheggs. Daggers. Jacob’s Sword. Gladyne. Meklin. Levers. Livers. Shalder.

Common Names:Yellow iris , Yellow flag,  Paleyellow iris

Habitat :
Iris psudacoru  is native to  Europe, including Britain, from Norway south and east to N. Africa the Caucasus and W. Asia.   It grows on damp marshy areas, swampy woods and in shallow water or wet ground on the edges of rivers and ditches. Often found in shady places.

It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 1-1.5 m (or a rare 2 m) tall, with erect leaves up to 90 cm long and 3 cm broad. The flowers are bright yellow, 7-10 cm across, with the typical iris form. The fruit is a dry capsule 4-7 cm long, containing numerous pale brown seeds.

Iris pseudacorus grows best in very wet conditions, and is often common in wetlands, where it tolerates submersion, low pH, and anoxic soils. The plant spreads quickly, by both rhizome and water-dispersed seed. It fills a similar niche to that of Typha and often grows with it, though usually in less deep water. While it is primarily an aquatic plant, the rhizomes can survive prolonged dry conditions. Yellow iris has been used as a form of water treatment since it has the ability to take up heavy metals through its roots.

Large iris stands in western Scotland form a very important feeding and breeding habitat for the endangered Corn Crake.

I. pseudacorus is one of two Iris species native to Britain, the other being Stinking Iris (Iris foetidissima).

Cultivation :
. Prefers a humus rich soil. Succeeds in water up to 15cm deep. Requires a moist soil, especially in early summer. Prefers a position in semi-shade. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn. A delicately scented essential oil is obtained from the dried roots. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits. Some named forms have been selected for their ornamental value. Special Features: Attractive foliage, Not North American native, Invasive, Naturalizing, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Wetlands plant, Attracts butterflies, Suitable for cut flowers.

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. A period of cold stratification improves germination time and rates. 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 in March or October. Early autumn is best. 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: …..Coffee……The seed is said to make an excellent coffee substitute as long as it is well roasted. Caution is advised, it might be poisonous.

Medicinal Action and Uses:
The Yellow Flag rhizome was formerly much employed as a medicine, acting as a very powerful cathartic, but from its extremely acrid nature is now seldom used. An infusion of it has been found to be effective in checking diarrhoea, and it is reputed of value in dysmenorrhoea and leucorrhoea.

It was formerly held in the highest esteem, the juice of the root being considered a cure for obstinate coughs, ‘evil spleens,’ convulsions, dropsies and serpents’ bites, and as Gerard also says, ‘doth mightilie and vehementlie draw forth choler.’ Gerard recommended it as a cosmetic, saying:
‘The root, boiled soft, with a few drops of rosewater upon it, laid plaisterwise upon the face of man or woman, doth in two daies at the most take away the blacknesse and blewnesse of any stroke or bruise,’
though he adds as a warning that if the skin
‘be very tender and delicate, it shall be needful that ye lay a piece of silke, sindall or a piece of fine lawne betweene the plaister and the skinne for otherwise in such tender bodies it often causeth heat and inflammation.’

Yellow flag was once credited with healing properties it did not actually have it was used as a diuretic, purgative and emetic. It has also been recommended for making a cooling astringent lotion for external application, and is reputedly effective when applied to wounds. A tea prepared from the rhizome (underground stem) was once used as a remedy for certain gynecological complaints, but is no longer recommended. A lotion made from the juice of the fresh rhizome is sometimes recommended by herbalists for wounds. Pharmacologists report that there is some evidence that yellow flag shows anti-inflammatory activity. A slice of the root held against an aching tooth is said to bring immediate relief. It was at one time widely used as a powerful cathartic but is seldom used nowadays because of its extremely acrid nature. When dried the root loses its acridity and then only acts as an astringent. A tincture of the rhizome is used in homeopathy.

He recommends:
‘an oil made of the roots and flowers of the Iris, made in the same way as oil of roses and lilies. It is used to rub in the sinews and joints to strengthen them, and is good for cramp.’
Parkinson, of all the varieties, most esteems ‘for his excellent beautie and raretie the great Turkie Flower de luce.’

‘And for a sweet powder to lay among linnen and garments and to make sweet waters to wash hand-gloves or other things to perfume them’ the roots of the sweetsmelling Flag.
The acrid juice snuffed up the nostrils excites violent sneezing, and on the authority of Dr. Thornton, ‘in this way it has cured complaints of the head of long standing in a marvellous way.’ The root powdered was also used as snuff.
The old authorities praised it as a cure for toothache, a slice of the rhizome rubbed against the aching tooth or held in the mouth between the teeth, being supposed to cause the pain to disappear at once.

The root was also an ingredient in an antidote to poison. Withering (Arrangement of Plants) mentions it as having cured swine bitten by a mad dog.

Culpepper (1652) says that the distilled water of the whole herb is a sovereign remedy for weak eyes, either applied on a wet bandage, or dropped into the eye, and that an ointment made of the flowers is very good for ulcers or swellings.

Other Uses: …....Dye; Essential; Ink; Tannin……..A beautiful yellow dye is obtained from the flowers. A good black dye is obtained from the root if it is mixed with iron sulphate. It is brown otherwise. The root is a source of tannin and has been used in making ink. A delicately scented essential oil, obtained from the roots, has been used to adulterate the oil of Acorus calamus

The flowers afford a beautiful yellow dye, and the root, with sulphate of iron, a good black dye.

The acrid properties are entirely dissipated by drying, after which it acts only as an astringent, so powerful from the amount of tannin contained, that it has been used in the place of Galls in the making of ink.

Landscape Uses    :Container, Specimen

Known Hazards:
Iris psudacorus is poisonous. Even when dry it causes gastroenteritis in cattle (Sutherland 1990). This plant is listed as an injurious weed in Nevada. Care should be taken when pulling or digging yellow iris because resinous substances in the leaves and rhizomes can cause skin irritation (Cooper and Johnson 1984). Mechanical removal in sensitive areas, such as shallow stream beds, can be expected to cause extensive disturbance to the substrate and permit the establishment of other unwanted plants. Cutting followed by herbicide (glyphosate) treatment with a dripless wick may be the best method for controlling plants in sensitive sites, such as the Frio River.

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


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Herbs & Plants

Blue Flag

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Botanical Name:Iris versicolor
Family: Iridaceae
Subfamily: Iridoideae
Tribe: Irideae
Genus: Iris
Species: I. versicolor
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales
Common Names:Orris Root, Blue Lily, Iris, Florentine Orris, White Flag Root, Flag Lily, Liver Lily, Poison Flag, Poison Lily, Snake Lily, Water Flag, Wild Iris, Yellow Flag, Yellow Iris, Dragon Flower, Myrtle Flower, Fliggers, Flaggon, Sheggs, Segg, Daggers, Jacob’s Sword, Gladyne, Fleur-de-lis
Parts Used: Rhizome & Root
Habitat:Native to North America, blue flag also grows throughout the British Isles. It prefers damp and marshy areas in the wild, but it is often cultivated as a garden plant.

A perennial herb, it grows to about three feet with erect stems, sword-shaped leaves, and two to three resplendent blue to violet, iris-like flowers per stem. The flower petals are long with a pleasant aroma. The fruit is a large capsule with a number of sections in which the brown seeds are lined up like a roll of coins. The rhizome is thick and short and unearthed in autumn.

click & see the pictures

Stems grow in clusters from the base, usually single or double-branched, and can be from less than a foot tall to over 3 feet. Leaves are sword-like or blade-like. Flowers are on an elongated stem that usually rises above the leaves. Six-petaled iris-like flowers (actually 3 petals and 3 sepals) can be bluish-purple to violet in blue flag to white, yellow, or copper-colored in other iris species. Flowers are fragrant. Irises have shallow roots and can spread from the roots.

Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. These invertebrates in turn are used as food by fish and other wildlife species.

Blue flag was a popular medicinal plant with Native Americans, who used it as an emetic, cathartic, and diuretic, to treat wounds and sores, and for colds, earaches, and cholera. The plant was considered helpful in treating liver problems and used for this purpose by the Hudson Bay Cree and the Delaware.

The plant was listed in the US Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1895.

In the Anglo-American Physiomedicalist tradition, it was used as a glandular and liver remedy.

In times past, the chemicals found in the root were inhaled in liquid form to clear the brain of “phlegmatic humours”.

Constituents: Blue flag contains triterpenoids, salicylic and isophthalic acids, a very small amount of volatile oil, starch, resin, an oleo-resin, and tannins.

Medicinal Uses:It is  bile stimulant, diuretic, detoxifies, mild laxative,mild expectorant, relieves nausea and vomiting.
The alkaloids in the rhizome can stimulate heart activity and seem to have a purifying action in the blood, but the rhizome should not be used by the inexperienced.

Blue flag has also been known as the liver lily, because its dried and powdered rhizomes were traditionally believed to be an excellent remedy for impurities of the blood and diseases of the liver. Its many other uses in folk medicine included the treatment of skin diseases, rheumatism, and even syphilis. No one, however, prized blue flag more than American Indians, some of whom regarded it as a virtual panacea. One of their uses for it, not adopted by the white man, was as a poultice for treating sores and bruises. Certain tribes are said to have planted blue flag near their villages to ensure a convenient supply.

Blue flag is currently used mainly to detoxify the body. Blue flag increases urination and bile production, and has a mild laxative effect. This combination of cleansing action makes it a useful herb for chronic skin diseases such as acne and eczema, especially where gallbladder problems or constipation contribute to the condition. Blue flag is also given for biliousness and indigestion. In small doses, blue flag relieves nausea and vomiting. However, in large doses blue flag will itself cause vomiting. The traditional use of blue flag for gland problems persists. Blue flag is also believed by some to aid weight loss.

Doses:Decoction: put 1/2 – 1 teaspoonful of the dried herb into a cup of water and bring to the boil. Let it simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.
Tincture: take 2 – 4ml of the tincture three times a day.

Other medical uses:

Traditional Uses:
The herb is used mainly for disorders of the respiratory system, but homeopathic uses include the thyroid gland and for digestion and headaches.
It increases urination and bile production, as well as being a mild laxative. This combination makes a good cleansing agent, in combination with other herbs, for such chronic skin diseases as acne or eczema, especially where gallbladder problems or constipation contribute to the condition.

In small doses, it relieves nausea and vomiting but in large doses, blue flag will cause vomiting.

It is believed by some to aid in weight loss.

Topically, an infusion of blue flag leaves can be used to treat skin sores and burns.

Cautions:The rhizomes of blue flag can be dangerously toxic, as is indicated by one of its other names, poison flag.
*Excessive doses can cause vomiting.
*Do not take during pregnancy.
*It may cause contact dermatitis in sensitive individuals.

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


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