Orris Root/German Iris; Iris Germanica florentina, herb for perfume, kitchen and medicine

iris germanica

This is a pretty and useful flower. Orris root flowers are white with blue veins, violet scented and the outer divisions fringed with yellow. The plant likes full sun in deep, rich, well-drained soil, but will grow almost everywhere.

Harvest rhizomes in late autumn. The dried rhizomes have been used by herbalists for many centuries. Fresh, the rhizomes have little odor, but dried, they have a sweet scent of violets. The characteristic violet odor is gradually developed during the drying process and does not attain its maximum fragrance for at least 2 years. Used to keep linen, blankets and wardrobes fresh and sweet smelling. Orris has been used as the main ingredient in almost all the old-fashioned face powders, foot powders, sachet powder, dental creams, violet scented soaps and cosmetics, and pot-pourri.

Whole roots of Orris, resembling the human form, are used in voodoo performances and the powdered root is an ingredient in “love potions.” Do not use during pregnancy, it is a uterine stimulant.

Orris Root Powder is used as a fixative with essential oils when making potpourri, however its most exotic application is in the Moroccan spice blend known as Ras el Hanout. Orris Root Powder is quite strong, so is best used sparingly when making North African tangines.

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Seasonality

Family: Caryophyllaceae

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Frost Hardiness: Hardy in Katoomba

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Country of Origin: Eastern Cape of South Africa

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Common names: African Dream Root, Undlela Ziimhlophe (White Ways/Paths), Ubulawu

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