February Birth Flower
The iris is the February birth flower and is cultivated all over the world. Iris are hardy herbaceous perennials and are native to North Temperate regions. Iris comes from a large genus of bulbous and rhizomatous perennials. This perennial herb can grow in water and on land. An iris can be grown from a creeping rhizomes or a bulb, they clump and multiply beautifully and create a tall vertical presence in the garden. Some of them grow in deserts, some grow in swamps and some in the cold far north and others in temperate climates. Its sword-like foliage is very attractive when the plant is not in bloom. Most irises need full sun and they are easy-to-grow perennials.
All flowers of iris have some similar characteristics. They have 6 petals: 3 standards (the ones which stand up straight and are in middle of the flower) and 3 falls (the outermost petals that grow out horizontaly with tips that fall gracefully backwards). Since irises are herbaceous perennials, they have soft, green stems and will die in the winter but the roots stay alive and will send out new growth in the spring. The iris flower is hardy from zone 3 to 9/10 depending on the variety.
Iris Colors & Meanings
The name iris is both its common name and scientific name for the iris flower. The species belongs to the iridaceae plant family. There exist a wide variety of iris flowers (more than 200 species), which are found in various parts of the world. You can find iris blooms in pink, blue lilac, purple to brown, yellow, orange, almost black, and white. There are no true reds. Among the many kinds of wild irises the blue flag is the most common.
The word iris is Greek for 'rainbow'. The iris flower meaning are faith, wisdom, peace of mind, friendship and hope. Purple iris is symbolic of wisdom and compliments, yellow iris symbolizes passion, blue iris symbolizes hope and faith while white iris symbolizes purity. Irises may also express admiration and courage. February is a month of romance and iris is a fitting symbol. An alternate February birth flower is the violet. Iris flowers are a beautiful and meaningful gift for a February birthday and the flower that is suitable for the 25th wedding anniversary. Presenting the couple with a large bouquet of irises as a 25th wedding anniversary gift can be a beautiful way to say Happy Anniversary.
Types of Irises
Rhizome irises and Bulbous irises are the two major groups of irises. Within those groups are countless varieties, species, hybrids, and cultivars. They have long, erect flowering stems which may be solid or hollow, simple or branched, and flattened or have a circular cross-section.
Rhizome irises are thickened stems which grow horizontally, either partially underground or underground. After planting, these iris rhizomes produce overlapping sword-shaped leaves forming flat fans of green foliage. Both the plant and roots grow from the rhizome. In this group, Bearded, Beardless and Crested irises are the three popular irises.
- There are 4 distinct part in bearded iris: Standards (upright petals), Falls (hanging petals), Stigma flaps, Beard (a tuft of short upright extensions growing in its midline).
- Beardless variety: Standards, Falls, Stigma flaps, but usually have crests.
- Evansa iris or crested iris: Standards, Falls, Stigma flaps and in adition to a ridge on the falls of the blosom, they have ridges like crests instead of beards.
Beardless iris is often considered in the same manner as the crested iris. This plant spread freely by undergruond stems and produce flat flowers in the shades of violet, blue and white. Often the leaves and flowers are found on bamboo like stems that 5 to 200 cm in height. The bearded iris, with its furry stripe, is the most common type.
Bulbuous irises grow from bulbs, they are typically smaller than rhizome irises and require a period of dormancy after they have bloomed. They usually produce smaller blooms and have cylindrical , basal leaves. Bulbous irises have 3 classifications, the English and Dutch, Reticulata irises and Junos. The most common bulb irises are Dutch Iris.
Species of iris include:
- American blue flag iris (iris versicolor)
- Flag iris (iris pallida)
- Florentine iris (iris florentina)
- German iris (iris germanica)
- Yellow flag iris (iris pseudacorus)
Uses of Iris Flower
Iris flowers are used as liver purge. The juice of iris can be used as a cosmetic to remove freckles from the skin, its root is used to treat skin diseases. The fresh root of iris germanica is a powerful cathartic, that is why its juice has been employed in dropsy. Used in dry state is said very helpful for complaints of the lungs, hoarseness and coughs. It is now valued more for the pleasantness of its violet-like prfume than for any other use. Essential oils from the iris plant are used in aromatherapy and in making perfume.
From their earliest years, irises were used as a medicinal remedy and to make perfume. There is a flower on the sphinx in Egypt believed to be an iris. Another iris appears on a bas-relief from the 28th Egyptian Dynasty. Today, they are primarily seen in bouquets, in gardens and in the wild all over the world.
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