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

Greek times

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

Egyptian palaces.

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

New Orleans.

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


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