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Herbs & Plants

Iris tenax

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

Synonym: Iris Minor,  Iris  gormanii.

Common Names : Tough-leaved iris or Oregon iris, Klamath iris

Habitat: Iris tenax is native to southwestern Washington and northwestern Oregon.. It occurs along roadsides and in grasslands and forest openings at low to middle elevations. One subspecies is also known from northern California.

Description:
Iris tenax is a perennial herb growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in).
It is not frost tender. It is in flower in May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.  Like most irises, it has large and showy flowers. The flowers bloom in mid to late spring and are usually lavender-blue to purple, but blooms in white, yellow, pink, and orchid shades are known to sometimes occur. The leaves are very slender for an iris, seldom over 5 mm broad; the plant is often mistaken for a type of grass when not in bloom. Its rhizomes spread slowly, causing the plant to grow in a tight clump.

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Its species name (tenax) means “tough” or “tenacious” and is in reference to the strong, fibrous leaves of the plant, which were used by indigenous peoples for braiding into snares and other cordage.

Cultivation:
Requires a really well-drained lime-free soil that is dry rather than damp[79, 233]. Succeeds in dry shade according to another report which also says that, once established, it is drought tolerant. Very easy to grow in a lime-free woodland soil. Succeeds in full sun or partial shade. A very ornamental plant. Hybridizes freely, especially with other Pacific Coast Irises. Iris tenax hybridizes with I. bracteata, I. chrysophylla, I. douglasiana, I. hartwegii, I. innominata, I. macrosiphon, I. purdyi, and I. tenuissima. 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 in early September after flowering but it can also be done in March. 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.

Medicinal Uses:
A tincture of the whole plant, or of the bulbous stems, is given in bilious vomiting, and is recommended for depression.

Other Uses:
The American  Indians use the fibres of this plant for making ropes.

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.

Resources:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/i/iriten10.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iris_tenax

.http://www.pfaf.org/User/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Iris+tenax

 

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Herbs & Plants

Irises

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Botanical Name :Iris
Family: Iridaceae
Subfamily: Iridoideae
Tribe: Irideae
Genus: Iris
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales

Common Name :Flags or junos

Habitat: The plant is a native of Southern Europe, very frequent in Italy, apart from its cultivation there, and is also cultivated in Morocco. In England, this German Flag or Flag Iris is by far the commonest of the family in gardens and justly deserves its popularity, for it will grow and flower well in the most unpromising situations and will bear with apparent equanimity hardships that few other plants would endure without loss of vitality. It is not moisture-loving – ordinary border soil, well cultivated, suits it well and the heavy clay soils are more or less inimical to its growth. If the best results are to be obtained, deep and rich beds should be prepared for these Irises, for they will well repay liberal treatment by the production of larger and more numerous flowers. Although they may be moved at any time of the year, April is the best month. They will not flower the same year, but they will during the summer, if attended to, become sufficiently strong to bloom freely the succeeding year. Winter is the worst time to move them, as in heavy soil, the plants often remain dormant without forming a single root-fibre until the spring. But they are easily increased in spring by dividing the root-stocks and replanting and watering into rich soil.

The German Iris, or Flag Iris of the nurseryman as it now exists, is a compound of many species and more varieties, as hybridization has been extensively carried on for many years.

Description:
Iris is a genus of 260–300 species of flowering plants with showy flowers. They are perennial plants, growing from creeping rhizomes (rhizomatous irises) or, in drier climates, from bulbs (bulbous irises). They have long, erect flowering stems which may be simple or branched, solid or hollow, and flattened or have a circular cross-section. The rhizomatous species usually have 3–10 basal sword-shaped leaves growing in dense clumps. The bulbous species have cylindrical, basal leaves. CLICK & SEE

Flower:-
The inflorescences are fan-shaped and contain one or more symmetrical six-lobed flowers. These grow on a pedicel or lack a footstalk. The three sepals, which are spreading or droop downwards, are referred to as “falls”. They expand from their narrow base, which in some of the rhizomatous irises has a “beard” (a tuft of short upright extensions growing in its midline), into a broader expanded portion (“limb”), often adorned with veining, lines or dots. The three, sometimes reduced, petals stand upright, partly behind the sepal bases. They are called “standards”. Some smaller iris species have all six lobes pointing straight outwards, but generally limb and standards differ markedly in appearance. They are united at their base into a floral tube that lies above the ovary (known as an epigynous or inferior ovary). The styles divide towards the apex into petaloid branches; this is significant in pollination.

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The iris flower is of interest as an example of the relation between flowering plants and pollinating insects. The shape of the flower and the position of the pollen-receiving and stigmatic surfaces on the outer petals form a landing-stage for a flying insect, which in probing for nectar, will first come into contact with the perianth, then with the stigmatic stamens in one whorled surface which is borne on an ovary formed of three carpels. The shelf-like transverse projection on the inner whorled underside of the stamens is beneath the overarching style arm below the stigma, so that the insect comes in contact with its pollen-covered surface only after passing the stigma; in backing out of the flower it will come in contact only with the non-receptive lower face of the stigma. Thus, an insect bearing pollen from one flower will, in entering a second, deposit the pollen on the stigma; in backing out of a flower, the pollen which it bears will not be rubbed off on the stigma of the same flower.

The iris fruit is a capsule which opens up in three parts to reveal the numerous seeds within. In some species, these bear an aril.

Medicinal and  other uses:

Constituents:The chief constituent of Orris root is the oil of Orris 0.1 to 0.2 per cent), a yellowish-white to yellow mass, containing about 85 per cent of odourless myristic acid, which appears to be liberated from a fat present in the rhizome during the process of steam distillation. Oil of Orris is known commercially as Orris Butter.

Other constituents are fat, resin, a large quantity of starch, mucilage, bitter extractive and a glucoside named Iridin, which is not to be confused with the powdered extracti Iridin or Irisin, prepared from the rhizome of the American plant I. versicolor, by precipitating a tincture of the drug with water and mixing the precipitate with an equal weight of powdered liquorice root, or other absorbent powder.

The odorous constituent of oil of Orris is a liquid ketone named Irone, to which the violet-like odour is due (though it is not absolutely identical with oil of Violets obtained from the natural flower), and it is the presence of this principle in the rhizome that has long led to the employment of powdered Orris root in the preparation of Violet powders, which owe very little of their scent to the real Violet perfume. It was first isolated by the eminent chemist Tiemann and formed the basis of his researches on artificial Violet perfume, and in 1893 he succeeded in preparing an allied body, which was termed Ionone and which had an odour even more like that of Violets than had Irone, and is now largely manufactured for the perfumery trade in making toilet waters and handkerchief extracts. The discovery of Ionone, which costs about one-eighth of the natural oil of Violets, has popularized Violet perfume to an enormous extent: most of the cheaper Violet perfumes on the market contain no trace of true Violet, but are made entirely with the artificial Ionone.

Otto of Orris is a golden-yellow oily liquid, which contains the odorous principles of the concrete oil of the rhizome without the solid, fatty inodorous constituents.

The important industry of Orris root still requires the light of scientific research to be thrown upon the life history of the plant to determine the conditions under which the largest percentage of the volatile oil can be developed.

Orris Root is rarely employed in medicine at the present time.

The fresh root possesses diuretic, emetic and cathartic properties. If given in large doses, it will occasion nausea, vomiting, purging and colic.

The drug was formerly employed in the treatment of bronchitis and chronic diarrhoea, and was considered a useful remedy in dropsy. The internal dose is stated to be from 5 to 15 grains.

The starch of the rhizome was formerly reckoned medicinal.

The dried powder is said to act as a good snuff, useful to excite sneezing to relieve cases of congested headache.

Pieces of the dried root are occasionally chewed for the purpose of overcoming a disagreeable breath.

The principal use of the dried root is, however, in perfumery, in sachet powders and to flavour dentifrices, toothpowders and cachous.

Oil of Orris, obtained by distilling powdered Orris root with steam, has an intense and extremely delicate odour of the fresh Violet and commands a high price. It is used commercially in the preparation of the finest scents and is also blended with artificial Violet perfumes, the odour of which it renders more subtle. Orris has the power of strengthening the odour of other fragrant bodies and is used as a fixative in perfumery.

Powdered Orris root is sometimes put into rinsing water in laundries and imparts a refreshing and fragrant scent to the linen.

Orris root, mixed with Anise, was used in England as a perfume for linen as early as 1480, under which date it is mentioned in the Wardrobe accounts of Edward IV.

One of the most interesting of the MS. still-room books of the later seventeenth century is Mary Doggett: Her Book of Receipts, 1682. In it we find ‘A perfume for a sweet bagg,’ as follows:
‘Take half a pound of Cypress Roots, a pound of Orris, 3 quarter of a pound of Calamus, 3 Orange stick with Cloves, 2 ounces of Benjamin, 3 quarters of a pound of Rhodium, a pound of Coriander seed, and an ounce of Storax and 4 pecks of Damask Rose leaves, a peck of dryed sweet Marjerum, a pretty stick of Juniper shaved very thin, some lemon pele dryed and a stick of Brasill; let all these be powdered very grosely for ye first year and immediately put into your baggs; the next year pound and work it and it will be very good again.’

Dr. Rhind (History of the Vegetable Kingdom, 1868) states that Orris gives the peculiar flavour to artificial brandies made in this country, and the root is much used in Russia to flavour a drink made of honey and ginger which is sold in the streets.

The larger and finer roots are often turned into pretty forms to be used for ornamental purposes, rosary beads, etc., and long pieces of Verona Orris are often shaped for infants’ use when teething. The less handsome rhizomes, as well as the chips, are distilled.

Lyte says ‘the Iris is knowen of the clothworkers and drapers, for with these rootes they use to trimme their clothes to make them sweete and pleasant.’ This was probably the ‘swete clothe’ so celebrated in the reign of Elizabeth.

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.

Resources:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/i/irises08.html#hab
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iris_(plant)

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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.

Description:
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.

CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURES
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.

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.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iris_pseudacorus
http://nas.er.usgs.gov/taxgroup/plants/docs/ir_pseud.html
http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/i/iripse09.html
http://nas.er.usgs.gov/taxgroup/plants/docs/ir_pseud.html

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Iris+pseudacorus

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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.

Description:
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.

History:-
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:
Homeopathy.

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.

Resources:
http://www.innvista.com/health/herbs/blueflag.htm
http://aquaplant.tamu.edu/database/emergent_plants/blue_flag.htm
http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_blue_flag.htm#blue_flag_parts

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iris_versicolor

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Herbs & Plants

Iris cristata

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

Common Names: Crested Iris, Dwarf crested iris

Habitat :Iris cristata is native to Eastern N. America – Maryland to Ohio, south to Georgia, Tennessee and Missouri. It grows in rich woods, wooded bottoms and ravines, usually in calcareous soils.

Description:
Iris cristata is a Herbaceous perennial plant. This dwarf crested iris is a low-growing, rapidly spreading plant that typically grows to 3-6” tall. It features pale blue, lilac or lavender iris flowers with gold crests on the falls. Flowers are borne on very short stems, often appearing nearly stemless. Narrow, sword-shaped, yellowish-green to medium green leaves (to 6” long) arise from a network of branching rhizomes. Spreads quickly and forms dense colonies in optimum growing conditions. Native from Maryland to Oklahoma south to Georgia and Mississippi. In Missouri, it typically occurs on rocky, wooded slopes, on bluffs and along streams in the southeastern Ozark region (Steyermark). When in flower, a well-developed bed can produce a spectacular drift of blue color

CLICK & SEE

Flowers light blue to light violet, complicated in structure with petals and sepals all showy. Flower with 3 lower “sepals” hanging downward, base with a yellow shoehorn-like appendage (crest). “Sepals” not heavily veined with violet but with a basal patch of yellow. Upper 3 “petals” narrow and pointing generally upward. Seed pods elongate, ovate. Leaves relatively short and broad, embracing the stem, particularly those near the top of the plant..Flowering period: April to May.

Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Alpine garden, Container, Ground cover, Massing, Rock garden, Woodland garden. Requires a light or gravelly lime-free soil of a woodland nature in partial shade or full sun. Likes plenty of moisture in summer but the soil must be well-drained. Grows well on a peat bank. Plants are hardy to about -20°c. Another report says that it is best if the plants are lifted intact in October, stored in sand and planted out in March. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer and rabbits. Plants require protection from slugs. Frequent division and transplanting every other year is necessary if the plant is to thrive and persist. Special Features:North American native, Naturalizing, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Suitable for cut flowers.

Propagation :
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. It does not require cold stratification. 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 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.

History:
Legend attributes the use of the yellow iris by the French monarchs to Clovis, the King of the Franks from 481 to 511 and the founder of Frankish state.  During a campaign against Alaric, the King of Aquitaine, Clovis was seeking a ford across a river for his army. A deer was frightened by the soldiers, and crossed the river at a ford that was thus revealed to Clovis. On the far side, he found a yellow iris that he put on his helmet as a testament to his good fortune which continued through to his defeat of Alaric near Poitiers in 507.  This story is almost certainly apocryphal, as the fleur-de-lis was first used as a heraldic symbol by King Phillipe II in 1180 and adopted as the French royal standard with three golden fleurs-de-lis on an azure background by King Charles the Wise in 1376.  But, like George Washington and the cheery tree, it is a good story.

In Greek mythology, Iris was the anthropomorphized goddess of the rainbow. She served as a messenger for the gods in general, but primarily for Hera, the wife and sister of Zeus. She was thus the female counterpart of Hermes (Mercury in Roman mythology).  In that a rainbow extends from the heavens to the earth, it was believed in Ancient Greece that this phenomenon afforded a means of communication between gods and mortals.  Accordingly, whenever a rainbow appeared, Iris was bringing a message from Olympus to a mortal or to a god on a terrestrial mission.  She had several collateral duties.  She led the souls of dead women to the Elysian Fields which gave rise to the custom of planting irises on the graves of women.  She also brought water from the River Styx which was used as a means of certifying the veracity of the gods. If they drank it after taking a solemn oath, they were rendered unconscious for one year if they had lied. Iris was married to Zephyrus, the god of the west wind and, according to some accounts, the mother of Eros, the god of love. There is a metaphorical appeal to the notion of love being a child born of the rainbow and the wind.

Edible Uses:….Root – used as a spice. Frequently chewed by local people to alleviate thirst. When first chewed the roots have a pleasant sweet taste, within a few minutes this changes to a burning sensation far more pungent than capsicums. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

Medicinal Uses: It is notable for its medicinal uses as well as for its toxic effects. Native Americans used the root in a poultice to treat sores and to make a tea that was a laxative and an emetic. It was adopted by early medical practitioners who used small, frequent doses to stimulate the bowels and the kidneys, and to otherwise “cleanse the blood.”  As with many medicinal treatments derived from plants, the chemical that provides the palliative effect in small doses is toxic if consumed in quantity. The blue flag contains furfural which can cause nausea and iridin, a powerful hepatic stimulant. Livestock have been poisoned when grazing in wild iris.

An ointment made from the roots is applied to cancerous ulcers. A tea made from the roots is used in the treatment of hepatitis.

Other Use:Charming blue flowers float above sword-shaped leaves in spring. Use this beautiful but tough plant to edge a shady garden or path. It is also an effective, slow moving ground cover that provides tremendous shelter for small animals.

Known Hazards: Many plants in this genus are thought to be poisonous if ingested, so caution is advised[65]. The roots are especially likely to be toxic[238]. 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 supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.nearctica.com/flowers/iton/iris/Icrist.htm
http://www.abnativeplants.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=plants.plantdetail&plant_id=79
http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Plant.asp?code=K690
http://sneezypb.livejournal.com/322957.html
http://www.sierrapotomac.org/W_Needham/DwarfIris_050605.htm
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Iris+cristata

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