- Family Iridaceae
- Iris versicolor
- Orris Root, Blue Lily, Iris, Florentine Orris, White Flag Root, Flag Lily, Liver Lily, Poison Flag, Poison Lily, Snake Lily, Water Flag, Wild Iris, Yellow Flag, Yellow Iris, Dragon Flower, Myrtle Flower, Fliggers, Flaggon, Sheggs, Segg, Daggers, Jacobs Sword, Gladyne, Fleur-de-lis
- Excessive doses can cause vomiting.
- Do not take during pregnancy.
- It may cause contact dermatitis in sensitive individuals.
Native to North America, blue flag also grows throughout the British Isles. It prefers damp and marshy areas in the wild, but it is often cultivated as a garden plant. A perennial herb, it grows to about three feet with erect stems, sword-shaped leaves, and two to three resplendent blue to violet, iris-like flowers per stem. The flower petals are long with a pleasant aroma. The fruit is a large capsule with a number of sections in which the brown seeds are lined up like a roll of coins. The rhizome is thick and short and unearthed in autumn.
Blue flag was a popular medicinal plant with Native Americans, who used it as an emetic, cathartic, and diuretic, to treat wounds and sores, and for colds, earaches, and cholera. The plant was considered helpful in treating liver problems and used for this purpose by the Hudson Bay Cree and the Delaware.
The plant was listed in the US Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1895.
In the Anglo-American Physiomedicalist tradition, it was used as a glandular and liver remedy.
In times past, the chemicals found in the root were inhaled in liquid form to clear the brain of “phlegmatic humours”.
- bile stimulant
- mild laxative
- mild expectorant
- relieves nausea and vomiting
- salicylic and isophthalic acids
- volatile oil (trace)
- Rhizome The alkaloids in the rhizome can stimulate heart activity and seem to have a purifying action in the blood, but the rhizome should not be used by the inexperienced.
The herb is used mainly for disorders of the respiratory system, but homeopathic uses include the thyroid gland and for digestion and headaches.
It increases urination and bile production, as well as being a mild laxative. This combination makes a good cleansing agent, in combination with other herbs, for such chronic skin diseases as acne or eczema, especially where gallbladder problems or constipation contribute to the condition.
In small doses, it relieves nausea and vomiting but in large doses, blue flag will cause vomiting.
It is believed by some to aid in weight loss.
Topically, an infusion of blue flag leaves can be used to treat skin sores and burns.