Herb: Rocky Mountain Iris


Latin name: Iris missouriensis


Family: Iridaceae (Iris Family)



Medicinal use of Rocky Mountain Iris:

Rocky Mountain iris was employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat various complaints, but especially as an external application for skin problems. It was for a time an officinal American medicinal plant, but is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism. The root is emetic and odontalgic. An infusion has been used in the treatment of kidney and bladder complaints, stomach aches etc. The pulped root is placed in the tooth cavity or on the gum in order to bring relief from toothache. A decoction of the root has been used as ear drops to treat earaches. A poultice of the mashed roots has been applied to rheumatic joints and also used as a salve on venereal sores. Caution is advised in the use of this plant, see the notes above on toxicity. A paste of the ripe seeds has been used as a dressing on burns.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
75 cm
(2 feet)

Flovering:
May to
June

Habitat of the herb:

Meadows and streamsides. Also found in pinewoods. Often found in apparently dry situations, but always where moisture is abundant until flowering time.

Edible parts of Rocky Mountain Iris:

The roasted seed is a coffee substitute.

Other uses of the herb:

Yields a green dye (part of plant used is not specified).

Propagation of Rocky Mountain Iris:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed should be sown as early in the year as possible in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first year. Plant out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Division, best done after flowering. Another report says that it is best done in spring or early autumn. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Meadows and streamsides. Also found in pinewoods. Often found in apparently dry situations, but always where moisture is abundant until flowering time.

Known hazards of Iris missouriensis:

Many plants in this genus are thought to be poisonous if ingested, so caution is advised. An arrow poison was made from the ground-up roots. Plants can cause skin irritations and allergies in some people.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.