Scientific Names: Iris germanica florentina
Arabic names: سوسن (Sawsan)
Rain Forest names:
Approximate Number of Species Known:
Common Parts Used: Blooms in summer
Height: upto 90 cm
Description: (please note: this is the general characteristics – colour, flavor etc)
Herb Name: Iris, Florentine
White Flower De Luce
Scientific name: Iris germanica florentina
Common part used:
Florentine iris – perennial on a thick rhizome with an erect flowering stem to 60cm(2ft), and characteristic sword- shaped leaves. The large flowers usually appear in pairs at the end of the stem from early to mid-summer, and have no scent. The petals are either white with a pale lilac tinge and a yellow ‘beard’ or pure white.
In Greek mythology Iris was the goddess of the many-colored rainbow. Her name was chosen for this family of plants to reflect the variable colors of their flowers. The iris became the emblem of several French monarchs including Charlemagne and Louis VII and IX, and became known as the fleur de luce or fleur de lys -a corruption of fleur de Louis. The white Florentine iris was first cultivated in the Italian city of Florence during the Middle Ages, and the flower may still be seen on the city’s old heraldic arms. The value of this species of iris lay in the pronounced violet scent that developed when the rootstock was dried. The root, commonly available in powdered form, became known as orris, a corruption of iris. Orris has been used as a perfume since the days of the ancient Egyptians. In the late fifteenth century a mixture of powdered anise and orris was used to perfume household linen, while in the eighteenth century sweet-scented orris was a principal ingredient of the cosmetic hair powders that were necessary to maintain the ornate hairstyles of the day.
Active irritant qualities are ascribed to orris-root, abdominal pain and emeto-catharsis being among its effects. These properties are dissipated upon drying the rhizome, when it becomes merely a gastric stimulant. The salivary flow and renal secretion are augmented by it while sneezing and increased pituitary secretion results from its use as a sternutatory. About the only use now made of orris-root is as an ingredient of breath perfumes and dentifrices, it not only giving a pleasant flavor, but acting beneficially on the gums. It was formerly used as a diuretic, expectorant, and remedy for chronic diarrhoea.