Symbolism of the Iris Flower
The ancient Greeks soon began the practice of planting purple iris flowers on the graves of women, believing they would entice the Goddess Iris to lead their loved ones in their journey to heaven.
These stately flowers, as evidenced by their depiction in Egyptian palaces, also enamored Egyptian Kings. The Egyptians were likely influenced by Greek mythology and used the iris to symbolize their connections to heaven.
By the middle ages, France took up the gauntlet and began to use iris flowers to symbolize royalty and power. In fact, it is the iris that inspired the fleur-de-lis, the National symbol for France.
In the United States, the iris is the birth flower for February, the flower for the 25th wedding anniversary and the state flower for Tennessee.
The Iris Flower Facts
Iris is both the common and scientific name for these impressive flowers. There are 325 species and 50,000 registered varieties of irises. These flowers are typically divided into two groups, bearded iris and beardless irises, which include Japanese and Siberian irises. They range from towering flowers of five feet or more to tiny dwarfs less than eight inches tall.
The bearded iris looks like it has a tiny beard, as the “falls” (the lower petals that droop down) are fuzzy. Beardless irises lack the fuzzy appearance. Irises reproduce via swollen roots. While the bearded iris produces a plump tuber, called a rhizome that looks like an oblong potato, others produce small bulbs.
Wild irises, typically blue or purple, grow throughout the United States and are often referred to as blue flag. These irises resemble the Siberian Iris. Florist irises are typically blue or purple and are used as accents in floral bouquets.