|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Iridaceae (from the genus Iris, the rainbow). Iris Family. Fig. 12. Herbs or sub-shrubs with fibrous roots or often tuberous rootstocks (corns): leaves mostly basal, equitant, linear: flowers usually showy, bisexual, regular or irregular, epigynous, each with 2 spathe-like bracts; perianth of 6 petaloid parts in 2 series, usually unlike, generally connate into a tube; stamens 3, the inner whorl wanting, separate or connate; anthers extrorse; ovary inferior, 3-celled, rarely 1-celled; ovules few to many, anatropous; style 1; stigmas 3: fruit a capsule; seeds albuminous.
The iris family has 57 genera and about 1,000 species of wide distribution. The two main centers are the Cape of Good Hope and subtropical America. The family is not plainly related to any other, perhaps most closely to the Amaryllidaceae. The ensiform equitant leaves, the 6-parted showy perianth, the 3 extrorse stamens, and the inferior 3-celled ovary, are together characteristic.
The rootstocks of many Iridaceae are purgative and diuretic, e. g., Iris florentina, I. germanica, I. pallida, and I. versicolor. The rootstock of I. florentina is fragrant and used for sachet perfume and tooth-powder (orris root). I. Pseudacorus and I. versicolor have been used for dropsy and diarrhea. I. foetidissima was an ancient remedy for scrofula and hysteria. The stigmas of Crocus sativus have been renowned since earliest times as an emmenagogue; they are deep orange in color, and used also in dyeing and as a condiment. Iris-green of the painters was prepared by treating violet iris flowers with lime. The seeds of I. Pseudacorus have been used as a substitute for coffee. The rootstocks of Homeria collina of South Africa are very poisonous. The family contains many well-known ornamental plants.
In America, many genera are in cultivation, all for ornamental purposes. Among these are: Belamcanda (Blackberry Lily, Leopold Flower); Crocus; Freesia; Gladiolus; Hermodactylus (Snake's-head Iris); Iris (Fleur-de-lis, Iris, Gladwin); Ixia; Moraea (Wedding Iris); Schizostylis (Crimson Flag); Sisyrinchium (Blue- eyed Grass, Satin Flower, Rush Lily); Sparaxis (Wand Flower); Tigridia (Tiger Flower, Shell Flower); Tritonia (Blazing Star).CH
- Babiana, Baboon Flower
- Calydorea, Violet-lily
- Chasmanthe, African cornflag
- Crocosmia, Montbretia
- Dierama, Fairy-wand
- Dietes, Fortnight Lily, African Iris
- Freesia (syn. Anomatheca, Lapeirousia)
- Ixia, African cornlily
- Olsynium, Grasswidow
- Sisyrinchium, Blue-eyed Grass, Yellow-eyed Grass
- Sparaxis, Wandflower, Harlequin Flower
- Tigridia Tiger Flower, Mexican Shell Flower
- Watsonia, Bugle-lily
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963