The Language of Flowers: The Iris

The Iris – Genus: Iris, Family: Iridaceae

The iris is one of the best loved plants in the garden. It is a huge genus of more than 200 species and belongs to the family of Iridaceae. Nearly all the species are found in the temperate Northern hemisphere. It is an ornamental perennial growing from rhizomes or bulbs and blooming in early summer. They usually consist of six-lobed flowers – the three drooping downward are called “falls” and the three petals standing upright are called “standards.”

In Greek mythology, Iris was the goddess of the rainbow and it is believed that the flower is named after her. She carried messages from heaven to earth on the arc of a rainbow. She was known to carry female souls from earth to heaven, and even today, purple irises are planted on women’s graves. 

During the 16th century BC, the iris was introduced to Egypt and stylized versions decorated the sceptors of the Pharoahs, representing victory and power. 
In the Middle Ages, the fleur-de-lis was a symbol used by French royalty and appeared on their coins, shields, and coats of arms.
Floriography is “the language of flowers.” It was popular in Victorian England and the United States in the 19th century for young men to communicate their feelings by sending ”talking bouquets,” “nosegays,” or “tussie mussies” to their intended sweethearts.
The iris symbolism depends upon the color. Yellow irises symbolize passion, purple irises symbolize royalty and wisdom, blue irises symbolize faith and hope, and white irises symbolize purity.