Yellow Flag Iris

4 Apr

Yellow Flag Iris (Iris pseudacorus), evergreen, stiff upright growth with bright yellow 3-4 inch flowers mid-summer, rich green, grass-like foliage, full sun to part shade, regular water to boggy conditions, easily naturalizes, deer resistant.

Yellow Flag is a robust and vigorous iris with lovely yellow blooms on branched stalks. Native to the temperate zones throughout the northern hemisphere, this is an iris of wet places, often growing at the edge of ponds or in the shallow water of a marsh. In the garden, it does well in moist conditions, and unlike many irises can tolerate standing water.

Yellow flag has had many uses over the centuries. The dried and powdered roots were used as a snuff; the seeds were roasted and prepared like coffee; the flowers were used to make a yellow dye; the rhizomes were used as a powerful laxative. Cut flowers last well and the dried fruit capsules are very attractive in arrangements.

Irises have been bred, hybridized and selected for more than 150 years. There are some 300 species of irises and more than a thousand named hybrids and selections. The many species, hybrids and selections of irises are divided into two main groups: rhizomatous and bulbous. The rhizomatous irises are further divided into three groups: bearded, with a tuft of hairs near the base of each fall; crested (a.k.a. Evansia), with a raised crest where the beard would be; and beardless. Yellow flag is one of the rhizomatous beardless irises. The genus is named for the Greek goddess, Iris, who walked on the rainbow between heaven and Earth, leaving colorful flowers in her footsteps. Yellow flag is probably the model for the “Lily of France” emblem of the French kings, in use since the 12th century.


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