iris flower symbolism

Iris Flower Meaning and Symbolism

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Often associated with royalty, it’s easy to understand why the iris, the quintessential plant of summer, is a fixture in just about every homeowner’s garden. The plant produces elegant blooms that vary in color from brown to purple to white, and it requires very little care in order to produce flowers, year after year. 

While most people understand how the iris could be connected to royalty, there is other symbolism to the plant that’s worthy of mention, too.

What Does Iris Mean?

The iris is named after the ancient Greek goddess, Iris, who was believed to be a messenger of the gods. Iris used rainbows to bridge the gap between earth and heaven, and the ancient Greeks believed that the rainbow was quite literally the flowing, multi-colored robes of this beautiful goddess.

Because of this, Greeks also viewed the iris flower as a continuation of the flowing veil. The flowers were named to honor the goddess and to bring good fortune upon the earth. 

yellow and white iris

What Does the Iris Flower Symbolize? 

More often than not, the iris is used to symbolize royalty and valor. However, it has other meanings, too, which vary depending on the culture, color and types of iris.

Some people view the iris as a symbolic representation of faith and wisdom, which is why it is frequently used in religious settings. It can also be used to showcase hope and optimism. 

What Does a Purple Iris Mean? 

purple iris

As most purple flowers do, a purple iris symbolizes royalty. However, that is not it’s only hidden meaning, as a purple iris can also represent wisdom, gratitude, and respect. 

What Does a Blue Iris Mean?

white blue iris

Blue irises, most often used in religious ceremonies, represent hope, faith, and devotion.

What Does a White Iris Symbolize? 

The white iris is consistent with the symbolism of other white flowers and represents purity, innocence, and divinity. 

iris flower meaning

What Does a Yellow Iris Symbolize?

Although most yellow flowers symbolize friendship and goodwill, a yellow iris breaks from tradition and represents passion. 

What is the Cultural Significance of the Iris?

Holding true to the Greeks’ belief that the iris was used to symbolize good fortune, the iris was traditionally used as a funeral planting. The iris was placed on the graves of women as it was believed that the flower would encourage the goddess to lead their beloved departed to eternal lives in heaven.

Irises were also revered in ancient Egypt. They were used to ornate Egyptian palaces and also symbolized the connection to heaven.

In France, iris flowers were used to symbolize royalty, power, and wealth in France. Here, the flowers are still used as part of the fleur-de-lis, a national symbol for the country.

In the United States, the iris serves as the flower for those who were born in the month of February. It also represents the 25th wedding anniversary and is the official flower for the state of Tennessee. 

What is the Symbolism of an Iris Flower Tattoo?

Irises are known for their deep blue-purple blooms. As the emblem of the country of France, the flower is often chosen by French patriots as a testament to their national devotion. However, the iris tattoo can also stand as a symbol of hope, faith, valor, and wisdom. As the birth flower of February, it is also commonly chosen by people whose birthdays fall within this month. 

When Should You Give Someone an Iris Flower? 

Irises can be cut directly from a flower bed and produce a striking bouquet or arrangement that can indicate your love or respect for someone. Because of this, just about anybody can be given an iris flower, but it’s best used to convey your admiration. It is the perfect flower to give on a birthday or anniversary. 

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