The name Iris comes from the Greek word for rainbow. This refers to the great variety of flower colors found among the several species.
Irises grow from rhizomes that can even be planted quite shallowly even in poor soil. The most familiar garden iris is the bearded German Iris and its many cultivars. There are many wild forms of iris.
The iris is the the state flower of Tennessee.
The Fleur-de-lis (the final "s" is pronounced in French) is the emblem for the city of New Orleans recalling early French control of the area.
In various cultures we find that the iris is symbolic of faith, hope, courage, wisdom and/or admiration. Irises were once used to make perfume and as a remedy for several medical issues.
During the 1st century A.D. Pedanius Dioscorides, a Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist, recommended that the smashed tuber of the iris be mixed with honey and wine. This was used to treat coughs, colds, indigestion and sciatica.
The ancient Greek goddess, Iris, was the messenger of the gods on Mt. Olympus, and was the personification of the rainbow. She was believed to have been the link between the Greek mythological heaven and earth through a colorful arc ("rainbow" as we call it. "My bow" as the Hebrew Bible calls it, and as accurate translations call it in Genesis 9:12. Literally, in Hebrew, "bow of me," or "my bow" as we would state it. In this sense a bow is a curved object.)
The writer just ran into Iris while reading Homer’s The Iliad ofd Homer 7/11/14. This was in Book XXIII section 193.
In ancient Greece purple irises were planted over the graves of women to summon the goddess to guide the dead in their journey.
The color purple, or dark blue, came to symbolize royalty. Yellow became a symbol of passion.
Ancient Egyptian Pharoahs were awed at the iris' exotic nature. Drawings have been found of the iris in a number of Egyptian palaces and on wall art.
During the Middle Ages the meaning of iris became linked to the French monarchy, and the fleur-de-lis eventually became the recognized national symbol of France, although the term fleur-de-lis means lily flower or flfower of the lily.
The fleur-de-lis is associated with Boy Scouts.
One of the most exquisite iris gardens is the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens in N.J. There are over 10,000 iris plants there. The Giardino Dell'Iris in Florence, Italy, is the most famous iris garden in Italy.
"Flag" is a common name many of us oldsters remember hearing the iris called. The term was common in the royal colony of Virginia prior to our American Revolution and is found in the common name Blue Flag iris along the Northern lakes region of America.
Then we have the beautiful blue Dutch iris springing up from bulbs, and the blue Siberian Iris from tubers.
For those who love to look at the night sky with a strong telescope may we suggest that you search for the Iris nebula (named: NGC 7023). NGC is an an acronym for New General Catalogue (of nebulae and Clusters of stars).
"The Wild Iris" is a poem by Louise Gluck.