Herb: Dalmation Iris

Latin name: Iris pallida

Family: Iridaceae (Iris Family)

Medicinal use of Dalmation Iris:

Cathartic. The juice of the fresh root is a strong purge of great efficiency in the treatment of dropsy.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

May to


Habitat of the herb:

Rocky places in limestone hillsides and the sides of gorges.

Edible parts of Dalmation Iris:

The root can be dried, ground into a powder and used as a food flavouring. The root may take several years of drying to develop its full fragrance. "Orris oil" is an essential oil derived from the dried root, it is used as a flavouring in soft drinks, sweets, chewing gum etc.

Other uses of the herb:

The root is a source of Orris powder which has the scent of violets. It is obtained by grinding up the dried root. It is much used as a fixative in perfumery and pot-pourri, as an ingredient of toothpastes, breath fresheners etc and as a food flavouring. The root can take several years of drying to fully develop its fragrance, when fresh it has an acrid flavour and almost no smell. An essential oil is obtained from the fresh root, this has the same uses as the root. The juice of the root is sometimes used as a cosmetic and also for the removal of freckles from the skin. A black dye is obtained from the root. A blue dye is obtained from the flowers. Plants can be grown for ground cover, the dense mat of roots excluding all weeds.

Propagation of Dalmation 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, though it can be done at almost any time. 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:

Rocky places in limestone hillsides and the sides of gorges.

Known hazards of Iris pallida:

Many plants in this genus are thought to be poisonous if ingested, so caution is advised. The roots are especially likely to be toxic. Plants can cause skin irritations and allergies in some people.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.