The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

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Blue Flag

Scientific Names

Blue Flag

  • Iris versicolor L.
  • Iridaceae
  • Iris family

Common Names

  • Blue Iris
  • Flag lily
  • Fleur-de-lis
  • Flower de-luce
  • Iris
  • Liver lily
  • Poison flag
  • Snake lily
  • Water flag
  • Water lily

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Parts Usually Used

Roots
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Blue flag is a perennial, 1-3 ft. in height. and grows erect, has narrow, sword-shaped leaves and, from May to July, violet blue flowers streaked with yellow, green, and white. The sword-like leaves are similar to those of garden irises, with flowers violet-blue, sepals violet at outer edge; veins prominent, sheaths papery. It prefers wet, swampy locations and is found in such spots from Canada to Florida and west to Arkansas. Wet meadows, moist soil. Native to America, it is both beautiful and potentially poisonous. The flowers yield a blue infusion which can substitute for litmus paper in testing for acids and alkalines, but it is the root which has been most widely used. When fresh, the root has a slight odor and a pungent, acrid, and nauseous taste, a natural warming of the actively poisonous nature of the fresh root. Although the Indians had some uses for the fresh root, it was usually collected in autumn and dried.

Blue flag is an iris similar in foliage appearance to the sweet flag, Acorus calamus. Unfortunately for some, it has quite different properties and if mistakenly used internally as one might sweet flag, the results can be disastrous.

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Medicinal Properties

Anti-inflammatory, alterative, cathartic, diuretic, laxative, resolvent, sialagogue, stimulant, vermifuge
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Legends, Myths and Stories

About 800 species belonging to more than 50 genera have been described from temperate to tropical climates, mostly from South Africa and tropical America.
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Uses

American Indians poulticed the root on swellings, sores, wounds, bruises, ulcers, takes away freckles, rheumatism; internally root tea was used as a strong laxative, emetic, and to stimulate bile flow. Useful in cancer, dropsy, impurity of blood, syphilis, skin diseases, liver troubles, and as a laxative.
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Warning

This herb is potentially fatal. Could cause death or other serious consequences. Its use is not recommended without constant medical supervision.
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Bibliography

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

Buy It! How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts, by Frances Densmore, Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, first printed by the United States Government Printing Office, Washington, in 1928, this Dover edition 1974

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

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