With striking beauty and unique shape,
Irises have rich meanings
and, when given as gifts,
convey deep sentiments.
With over two hundred varieties
in a wide spectrum of colors,
the iris fittingly takes its name from
the Greek word for “rainbow” and can be found
in almost every part of the world.
The iris’ history dates back to ancient
when the Greek Goddess, Iris,
the messenger of the gods and
the personification of the rainbow,
acted as the link between
heaven and earth.
Purple irises were planted on the
graves of women to summon
the Goddess to guide the dead
on their journey.
Ancient Egyptians marveled
at the beauty and exotic nature
of the iris and drawings
can be found on the walls of
During the middle ages,
the meaning of irises became
linked to the French monarchy
and the Fleur-de-lis
became the national symbol of
Through its intricate history
the iris has come to represent
faith, hope, wisdom and courage.
Today, the iris is the state flower
of Tennessee and the Fleur-de-lis is
the emblem for the city of
My mother loved irises and
called them “flags”
Once, while visiting a niece
in Ohio, I saw her neighbor’s
garden filled with irises in many
different colors – including black!
It’s my favorite flower
and has been for many years–
long before I knew its illustrious
Sandra Lee Smith
August, 2, 2009/updated July 1, 2018