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German Iris

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  • Botanical: Iris germanica
  • Family: Iridaceae
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German Iris

Botanical

Iris germanica

Family

Iridaceae

Known as

Deutsche Schwertlilie, Ritter-Schwertlilie

Old Use

medical, industry

Collection Times

May to June

Parts Used

flowers, roots

Medicinal

bronchitis, bronchitis, coughs

Respiratory System

bronchitis, cough

Properties

carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant

Description

Iris germanica grows up to 120 cm high and 30 cm wide. The roots can go up to 10 cm deep. It is a rhizomatous perennial that blooms in April to June. Lifting, dividing and replanting the rhizomes is best done once flowering has finished as this is when the plant grows the new shoots that will flower the following year. The rhizomes are placed on the surface of the soil facing towards the sun and with at least 45cm of open ground in front of them - this allows two years growth and flowering. The plant is held in place by removing half the leaf mass to reduce wind rock and by using the old roots as anchors in the soil. The rhizome is placed on well dug ground and the roots placed either side into 10cm deep grooves. The soil os then gently firmed around the roots, so holding the plant steady. New roots and leaves are created rapidly as the rhizome moves forwards.

Properties & Uses

The root is diuretic, emetic, expectorant and mildly purgative. Another report says that the juice of the fresh root is a strong purge of great efficiency in the treatment of dropsy. In the past, sections of the dried root have been given to teething babies to chew on, though this has been discontinued for hygienic reasons. Roots of plants 2 - 3 years old are dug up after flowering and are then dried for later use.

Other Uses

The root is a source of Orris powder which has the scent of violets. It is obtained by grinding up the dried root. It is much used as a fixative in perfumery and pot-pourri, as an ingredient of toothpastes, breath fresheners etc and as a food flavouring. The root can take several years of drying to fully develop its fragrance, when fresh it has an acrid flavour and almost no smell. An essential oil is obtained from the fresh root, this has the same uses as the root. The juice of the root is sometimes used as a cosmetic and also for the removal of freckles from the skin. A black dye is obtained from the root. A blue dye is obtained from the flowers. The seeds are used as rosary beads

Cautions

The leaves, and especially the rhizomes, of this species contain an irritating resinous substance called irisin. If ingested this can cause severe gastric disturbances. Plants can cause skin irritations and allergies in some people

Distribution

Nearly all species are found in temperate Northern hemisphere zones, particularly from Eurasia to Asia. Although diverse in ecology, Iris is predominantly found in dry, semi-desert, or colder rocky mountainous areas, other habitats include grassy slopes, meadowlands and riverbanks.

Constituents

irigenin S, iriside A, stigmasterol, a-irone, γ-irone, 3-hydroxy-5-methoxyacetophenone, irilone, irisolidone, irigenin, stigmasterol-3-O-β-D-glucopyranoside, irilone 4'-O-β-D-glucopyranoside, iridin

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.