Blue Flag Iris

Iris versicolor

Iris versicolor (literally Iris of various colors) is a hardy perennial flowering herb native to the 'North Country'. It can reach approximately 2-3' in height and is commonly identifiable by its vibrant namesake flowers (bloom May-June). The blue flag iris is commonly found in moist to wet environments, often near water sources themselves while preferring a loamy or peaty soil and full sun exposure. However, the 'dagger flower', or 'poison lily' is known to tolerate shallow water conditions and high nutrient concentrations common to marshes, bogs, swamps, sedge meadows, ponds, streambanks and even wastewater treatment systems. Careful! Fresh 'poison lily' root is poisonous, go figure.

Useful Applications

-The plant is also known to accumulate pesticides/fungicides significantly. In one study it was postulated that pesticide degradation may occur in the rhizosphere of the iris. The plant is known to have a large root biomass, which aids remediation due to its high sorption capacity associated with dense root structures.

-Has been used practically in constructed wetland systems, bogs and water gardens for dual remediation and aesthetic purposes

Medicinal Use
-Was a popular medicinal for Native American peoples, who used the root as a laxative and emetic. Nowadays fresh root should not be consumed due to its poison content. Having a strong detoxifying effect on the liver and bowels, dried iris rhizome (root) is modernly brewed as a tea. It is known in this way to purge excess fluids from the body and treat "psoriasis, acne, herpes, arthritis, swollen glands and pelvic inflammatory disease". Externally it is has been used to treat "skin diseases, wounds and rheumatic joints".
-Roots are harvested in late summer/early fall and then dried. Tea can be brewed from dry root for internal use; a poultice can be made from boiled, mashed root and applied externally.

Works Cited

"Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...the natural history of the northwoods"

Constructed Wetlands for Water Quality Improvement

Dave's Garden 'PlantFiles'

Medicinal herbs

Bio-Buffer Zones

Vegetative Filter Strips Study