The Legend and Lore of Plants Part 2

29 Apr

For those of you interested here is the second part of The Legend and Lore of plants.


The name iris is the Greek word for the rainbow. To the Greeks the rainbow was personified in the beautiful,swift footed goddess Iris, Zeus and Hera’s messenger, whose path between heaven and earth was the rainbow.

The Greeks planted irises on woman’s graves, for Iris was said to lead the souls of women to the Elysian Fields. The iris prized for its medicinal value in antiquity and the Middle Ages, was used medicinally as early as about  1540 B.C. during the reign of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutmosis 1, who had the iris depicted on the walls of the temple of Theban Ammon at Karnak To the ancient Egyptians the iris was also a symbol of life and resurrection and was associated with their god Osiris and his son Horus. Osiris was the first legendary pharaoh who was killed and was then made immortal. After his death his earthly duties were transferred to Horus, who later also acquired powers of regeneration. A stylized iris appears on the brows of Egyptian sphinx statues, which was said to be representations of Horus.


Iris flower 2

The iris is thought to be the source of the fleur-de-lis symbol which has been used since antiquity but is best known for its associations with French kings. since the word fleur-de-lis in French means ” flower of lily,” The lily also has been named as the model for this symbol; but the iris in its actual appearance  and its history has a better claim of this title. Tradition has it that the first French ruler linked with the fleur-de-lis symbol was Clovis  1 (466-511 A.D.  who founded the Merovingian dynasty of Frankish  kings. There are at least five different legends that purport to explain why Clovis chose the symbol. One is that he wished to commemorate the iris because his men had fashioned  victory wreaths for themselves out of irises after the battle of Tolbiac (496 A.D.

Iris flower White

The first historically  documented use of the fleur-de-lis by a French king was when Louis V11 chose it for his banner in the second crusade (1150 After that time both the symbol and the iris flower were called fleur-de-Louis (flower of Louis) which eventually was modified to fleur de luce, then fleur-de-lis.  Until the eighteenth century the iris had this name in France. In 1376 Charles V of France adopted three golden fleurs-de-lis on a blue field as the official coat of arms of France. The design remained the emblem of the monarchy until the French Revolution.

The sweet smelling iris root and white iris was used in the Middle Ages and antiquity in making cosmetics and perfumes and last but not least Because  many iris roots resemble a seated figure they have been used for voodoo dolls in the West Indies.

Japanese Iris Garden

Beautiful Japanese Iris Garden





Posted by on April 29, 2016 in Uncategorized


7 responses to “The Legend and Lore of Plants Part 2

  1. ztevetevans

    April 29, 2016 at 9:06 pm



  2. squirrelbasket

    May 1, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    That was all very interesting!
    I love irises but regret how short-lived the blooms are.
    Best wishes 🙂


  3. ritaroberts

    May 2, 2016 at 7:18 am

    Thank you Pat I love Irises also especially the blue ones. I frequently visit your most interesting blog .Love the posts about Trees.


  4. dorannrule

    May 3, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    This is so interesting Rita! I had no idea about the long history of the Iris…especially in the history of France. Thank you so much for sharing.


  5. ritaroberts

    May 3, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Pleased you enjoyed reading about the Iris Dora. They are among one of the most beautiful flowers.


  6. frederick anderson

    May 4, 2016 at 5:36 am

    To those who are interested? Who could not be? This stuff gets so easily missed in the turgid mud of schoolbook history, and it is absolutely riveting! Thank you for explaining to me the significance of Iris among the gods, and in the same blog reminding me of a forgotten king called Clovis.


  7. ritaroberts

    May 4, 2016 at 7:34 am

    Thank you Frederick. I am so pleased you enjoyed this post.



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