Wild Purple Iris

L. Iridaceae


Called Blue Flag, or Flag Lily, this purple Iris is a native of North America, and not found as a wild herb in Great Britain.

also called:

Poison Flag
Liver Lily
Snake Lily
Dragon Flower
Dagger Flower
Water Flag
N. O. Iridiceae
Amerikan Suseni
Flag Lily
Harlequin Blueflag
Larger Blue Flag
Poison Flag
Iris Hexagona

Wild iris Family members:


Orris Root Rhizoma Iridis

Also medicinal:

I. Florentina, I. foetidissima , I. Germanica ,* I. Missouriensis, L. Lenax. , l. Pallida, L. pseudacorus , l. tuberosa , L. xiphium


The Iris was in the old days a symbol of Majesty.Its shaping originated the Sceptre, invented by early Egyptians.

Known as "Liver Lily" for its medicinal effectiveness on the liver, it was an official drug in The United States Pharmacopoeia ,until 1895.


The root offers the official US Drug, being the source of Iridin or Irisin. Iridin acts powerfully on the liver.

starch,gum,tannin, a volatile oil, 25% of acrid, resinous matter called irisin,isopthalic acid,traces of salicylic acid, and an alkaloid (or,"possible" "unidentified" alkaloid) un- named in both my references.

An opalescent distillate is obtained through distilling the fresh root with water.

From this a white camphoraceous substance is extracted,having a faint odour.The oil posseses taste and smell but only part of its medicinal use.

Main Uses:

(preferable to podophyllin for the bowels), Oleoresin in the root is a liver purgative, also useful in small doses for:
biliousness,disorders of the duodenum, purifying the blood.

Used in constipation, a hepatic stimulant
Mainly used for syphilis and some forms of scrofula and eruptive skin conditions caused by sluggish gastro-intestinal tract and constipation.

It is used in combination with other herbs as a cleansing agent for eczema or acne, where gallbladder or constipation worries have contributed.

Lesser-known use:

leaves applied externally for bruising, burns, blood purifier for the skin, diuretic.

Dried rootstock and leaves are used as a purgative.

Contra -Indications

Can be mistaken for Sweet Flag or Iris Missouriensis* with alarming repercussions.

Large doses of Missouriensis can cause nausea, vomiting and facial neuralgias.

Handle Iris root with care: can cause possible dermatitis.


"Blue Flag rhizome has annual joints about 2 or more inches long, 3/4 " in diameter,cylindrical in the lower half, becoming compressed towards the crown, where the cup-shaped stem scar is to be seen, when dry....Numerous rings formed of leaf scars..above and scars of rootlets below...dark brown externally, longditudinally wrinkled.The fracture is short, purplish...rootlets are long, slender and simple. Rhizome has a peculiar odour and a nauseating taste."


Of note:

My own Doctor told me recently that science has conquered both Syphilis and Gonhorrea. He has not told me of what medicinal constituents a cure or preventive is found, but there are three well known herbs traditionally used to cure one or the other : Iris versicolor,  Blazing Star (Liatris) root and also Mexican Tea . 

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