Probably the most widespread marginal plant in the world, the vigorous Iris Pseudacorus, or more commonly known as Flag Iris, is also native to Europe, Western Asia and North-East Africa. Over the years it has become an invasive intruder to much of North America,but despite this, the native species and two cultivars (Iris Pseudacorus Variegata) and (Iris Pseudacorus Roy-Davidson), have all been awarded the AGM(Award of Garden Merit). This plant is identified by many common names such as, Yellow Flag, Water Flag, Jacobs Sword, Daggers, Water Skegs, and Flagon to name but a few. This species of plant is very robust and will grow on the edge of ponds, lakes and streams where it will form large colonies. In times of drought, the plants rhizomes will grow up the banks and can survive lengthy drought conditions. Growing to a height of 3 to 5 ft it complements well with Typhas (Reed Mace) and also Butomus Umbellatus (Flowering Rush). Iris Pseudacorus has a varied flowering time between May and June depending on location and weather conditions. After flowering, the seed pods develop quickly and get quite large and turn brown in Autumn. When ripe, they split open revealing dozens of orange/brown seeds, which benefit from being frozen in the winter in order to germinate in the following spring.
Attractive To Wildlife
Our native Flag Iris and its cultivars are great for attracting wildlife. The scented flowers attract various insects including Bumble Bees, Honey Bees and Hover flies. The sword like leaves and stems provide good cover for the larvae of Dragonflies and Damselflies which will hatch into flying adults on a hot summer’s day.
Poisonous and Medicinal Properties
All Iris’s are poisonous and can cause skin irritations and allergies to certain people and severe stomach pain and cramps if ingested. So it seems strange to me that the seeds have been roasted throughout the past to make coffee. It is also said that a small slice of fresh rhizome will instantly cure a toothache when placed on the tooth, much the same way as cloves are used today. The flowers have also been used to make an attractive yellow dye and the dye that can be extracted from the root, when mixed with sulphate of iron, will make a black dye.
There are at least 50 or more worldwide cultivars and maybe even 100, and the hybrids come in a vast array of colours ranging from blue, brown and yellow flowers, and also combinations of all three colours. They come in single or double flowers, different leaf variegations and heights ranging from 1ft to 6ft. Here at Lilies Water Gardens, we are able to offer 20 varieties which are available to buy online or from our retail nursery.