Iris Flower Meaning, Spiritual Symbolism, Color Meaning & More

The iris flower, named after the Greek goddess of the rainbow, never fails to inject a burst of life into any garden. With over 300 species to choose from, there’s an iris for almost any occasion. 

Their intricate, delicate blooms can make any landscape ‘pop’, and their beauty has inspired us for decades. The iris is more than just a pretty flower, though. These plants have an incredible history, and they’ve accumulated an abundance of symbolic meanings. 

Eager to learn more about this incredible plant? Read on to find out more about the iris. 

Iris Flower Meaning

What Does The Iris Flower Mean

Irises are the birth flower for February; these flowers symbolize hope, eloquence, faith, wisdom, and communication. 

There are few flowers as beautiful and varied as the iris. The iris is celebrated for producing natural and profuse blue hues. These incredible flowers are often used in wedding bouquets and as ornamental decor. 

The iris also has associations with royalty and nobility. Because the iris is such a varied plant, its meanings can differ according to its color, size, and shape.

However, this diversity makes the iris one of the most popular plants in the world. It’s a suitable gift for various occasions, and it’s bound to be adored by any recipient. 

Etymological Meaning Of The Iris Flower

To understand the meanings of the iris, we also need to look at its etymological meaning. 

Iris (noun) became the name of a flowering plant, “iris germanica,” in the late 14th century. In the early 15th century, the word was also used in reference to the eye membrane, from the Latin ‘iris’ to mean “iris of the eye.” In Greek, ‘iris’ or genitive ‘iridos’ also meant ‘rainbow’. 

Iris was once the name of the messenger of the Olympian gods, represented by the rainbow. The word has been used in the oldest sections of the Iliad to refer to both the rainbow and the messenger. 

In Middle English, the word ‘iris’ also meant “prismatic rock crystal”, which helped build its connotations with the eye. 

Symbolism Of The Iris Flower

Where there are flowers, there’s also symbolism. The symbolism of the iris varies between cultures. So let’s explore some of the most common symbolic meanings of the iris below. 

Christianity

In Christianity, iris petals symbolized the Holy Trinity: the father, the son, and the holy spirit. They’re also associated with the Resurrection and the Passion of Christ. This is fitting when we consider that the flower most often blooms in the Springtime. 

The iris is also said to represent the Virgin Mary. For example, one tradition says the iris represents the tears cried by the mother of Jesus at his crucifixion. French kings and the trinity also adopted the iris because of its shape. 

Spirituality 

The iris also has some close associations with spirituality, which interestingly, stem from its relations to Christianity. 

In Christianity, the iris symbolizes the holy trinity or a divine link between Heaven and Earth. Some believe this also represents intuition and psychic abilities.

It’s even believed that using the iris in specific settings can release dormant psychic powers. 

Islam

In Islam, the iris is placed on the grave of a loved one as an expression of remembrance, love, and devotion. Iris Albicans, or the ‘Cemetary iris,’ were planted on graves in Muslim regions. 

Spirit Animals

On a spiritual level, the iris also shares symbolism with the spirit animals of the stag and the deer. It’s even connected to the hawk, owl, dragonfly, turtle, and frog spirit animals, which symbolize nobility, spiritual growth, wisdom, and synergy. 

Iris Flower Color Meanings

The iris has between 260 to 300 species, varying in color, form, shape, and size. To understand the iris better, we also need to explore its color associations. 

Color meanings stem from a mixture of cultural developments, psychological effects, and biological conditions.

When we see certain colors, we’re subconsciously presented with a mix of positive and negative emotions. We experience this phenomenon when we examine the colors of almost anything, including flowers. 

The Purple Iris

Purple symbolizes royalty and wisdom; the purple iris is considered the most iconic 25th wedding anniversary flower. 

The purple iris can be used as a gift for almost any occasion, but it’s most commonly gifted on birthdays. If you don’t want to gift the iris for a special event, the purple iris will make a beautiful addition to any landscape border, especially when nestled between other white, blue, or yellow plants. 

The Yellow Iris

The yellow iris is often used to symbolize passion. Yellow is also a joyous color, often representing happiness and hope. If you’re celebrating achievements or good news, the yellow iris is a great way to do it. 

The Blue Iris

The blue iris is one of the most unique flowers in the world. They’re one of the only flowers to produce blue hues naturally. Because of their rarity, the blue iris is also associated with faith and hope.

In Japan, these flowers are used to represent heroism, and In ancient Egypt, the blue iris was used to signify power and nobility. 

The White Iris

White has long been associated with purity, tranquility, and cleanliness. Like most white flowers, the white iris often signifies a pure heart or mind.

Gifting a white iris is ideal for sending sympathy, sending well wishes, or even celebrating a wedding. Arguably, the white iris has one of the most diverse symbolic meanings of all the iris plants. 

Iris Flower Meaning

Meaningful Botanical Characteristics Of The Iris Flower

The iris flower is a genus of 260-300 species of flowering plant. The iris is usually used as an ornamental plant in the home or garden. 

Almost all species of the iris are found in the Northern hemisphere zones, including Europe, North America, and Asia. The iris may have a diverse ecology, but it’s most often found in mountain regions, meadowlands, dry semi-deserts, and even riverbanks. 

The iris is famously simple to grow, and it’s considered one of the most persistent perennials. Sadly, the iris has a short lifespan. If you’re gifting this plant, you can expect it to last between five to seven days.

If planted outside, the iris will bloom briefly in the spring and disappear again until the next season. Although they’re fleeting, their foliage proves a stunning display every year. 

When you see an iris in bloom, you won’t be surprised to know they’re named after the Greek goddess of the rainbow.

These incredible plants put on a bold and vibrant display every year. They may have a short lifespan, but their incredible blooms are worth it. 

Special Occasions For The Iris Flower

Do you have a special occasion coming up? Flowers are a popular gift for almost any occasion, including weddings, birthdays, baptisms, and more. 

If you’re looking for something special to gift your loved one, look no further than the iris. The iris is one of the most commonly gifted plants in the world. If you’re unsure what gifting event would be appropriate, let us walk you through some of the most memorable occasions to deliver the iris. 

Birthdays

A birthday is a perfect time to send your loved one an iris. These plants are available in a wide variety of colors and shapes. You’ll never run out of options from the bearded and beardless to the dwarf crested and dwarf bearded. 

If your loved one has a birthday in February, the iris is the perfect flower to send them. The iris is considered the official flower of the February birth month, along with the violet.

This month is also filled with messages of love and abundance; the iris is the ideal way to express your love and best wishes.  

Weddings Or Anniversaries

Whether you want to keep things traditional and white or branch out and inject a burst of life into your special day, the iris is a great plant to feature at your wedding. 

A modest white iris display would make the perfect centerpiece on your guest’s table or even as a bouquet to walk down the aisle with. If you’re having a vibrant or colorful day, you could select a ranged bouquet of colored irises to make your day pop. 

The iris is associated with love, health, and wisdom. If you’re celebrating an upcoming wedding anniversary, the iris is a unique plant to show your admiration with. 

Get Well Soon

Is someone in your life struggling with ill health? Do you want to send them a meaningful, get-well-soon message that they’ll truly appreciate? Why not give them an iris?

Its associations with faith and hope are a beautiful way to let your loved ones know that you’re thinking of them and wishing them a speedy recovery.

Plus, with such a wide variety of colors to choose from, there’s an iris to suit anyone’s taste. 

Iris Flower Cultural Significance

Every flower has a meaning. Usually, these meanings stem from the cultural interpretations of each plant. Want to learn more about the iris?

Let’s explore the cultural significance of the iris and how this has shaped our interpretation of it. 

Ancient Egypt

Depictions of the iris are commonplace in Egyptian artwork. Like most other cultures, the Egyptians associated the iris with royalty. The Egyptians were also one of the first cultures to create perfumes, and iris flowers were a common feature in their creations. 

Greek Mythology

In Greek mythology, the name ‘iris’ was first used as the Greek word for a rainbow to name the Greek goddess of rainbows. Iris carried messages between the spiritual and mortal world and was believed to deliver souls to the afterlife. This has helped give the iris a range of spiritual associations with the afterlife. 

France

In the early 2nd century, France was becoming a Catholic nation. Around this time, the flower was used to symbolize the Holy Trinity. By the 5th century, the French had created a symbol called the “fleur-de-lis” based on the iris, which became a symbol of their faith and French nobility.   

Asia

For the Chinese, the iris shares several meanings with the butterfly. It’s also used as a symbol to honor deceased loved ones, and it’s closely associated with the joy of the summer months. To the Japanese, the iris represents protection and purity. 

Iris Flower Facts

 Now, let’s explore some of the most fascinating facts about the iris. 

  • The iris is named after the Greek goddess of the rainbow in Greek mythology. 
  • The iris is one of the only flowers to produce naturally blue hues.
  • These plants can be bearded or beardless.
  • Some parts of the plants have been used medicinally. 
  • The three iris petals stand upright and are usually called standards.
  • The fruit of the iris usually comes in the form of a pod, and these pods contain seeds. 
  • Most iris flowers have six colorful lobes. These consist of three inner lobes (petals), and three outer lobes (sepals).
Iris Flower Meaning

Iris Flower Uses

The iris also has a range of practical uses. Let’s explore some of the most common ones below.

Medicinal Uses

Historically, the roots of the iris plant have been used to treat stomach issues, skin infections, and even syphilis. Today, the roots of the iris plant are sometimes still used to purge the liver. 

In alternative medicine, the yellow iris is used to get rid of dandruff, and the white iris can be used to alleviate the symptoms of bronchitis and asthma.

Iris oil, extracted from the flowers, can also be used in sedative medicine and aromatherapy. The dried rhizomes of the iris can also be given to babies to help them with teething. 

Aesthetic Purposes

The iris may be a beautiful plant, but it’s also toxic. For this reason, iris flowers are most commonly used for ornamental purposes. You’ll find them planted as accent flowers, or in beautiful borders, or even as gifts for special occasions. 

What Is The Symbolism Of An Iris Flower Tattoo

Have you ever seen an iris tattoo? Wondering what it means? Let’s take a look at the symbolism behind an iris tattoo below. 

Spirituality

Are you a spiritual person? Do you feel like you’re on a spiritual awakening or growth journey? If you’re a plant lover and you’re looking for the perfect tattoo to symbolize your journey, the iris may be perfect for you. 

The iris has long been associated with links between the physical and spiritual realm. Its links with wisdom and faith can make it a meaningful tattoo for anyone connected to their spirituality. 

Protection

In Japan, the iris flower is believed to purify evil energies. Many believe it also protects those who have one. If you believe in this theory, and you want this level of protection with you everywhere, the iris tattoo can give you the peace of mind you need. 

Hope Or Remembrance

Have you been through a rough patch in life? Are you struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel?

If you need the motivation to push through, the iris can be a powerful symbol of hope. This flower is so diverse that you’ll have plenty of designs and colors to choose from. 

If you’ve recently lost a loved one, an iris tattoo can be a powerful symbol of remembrance. In Islam, the iris is often planted by graves to commemorate a loved one and offer a symbol of hope and remembrance for those that visit. 

Final Thoughts

The iris has a rich and diverse history. Whether you’re looking for a new plant to add to your collection, or you want to give a loved one a gift to remember, the iris is a suitable plant for almost any occasion or living space.

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Gloria White

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