The Artist George Gessert has specialised in breeding Irises.
The Artist Vincent van Gogh has painted several famous pictures of irises.
In ancient times Iris roots were used in perfume and medicine. Today Iris essential oil (absolute) from flowers are sometimes used in Aromatherapy as sedative medicines. The dried roots are also given whole to babies to help in teething.
Iris roots are harvested, dried, and aged for up to 5 years. In this time, the fats and oils inside the roots undergo degradation and oxidation, which produces many fragrant compounds that are invaluable in perfumery. The aged roots are steam distilled which produces a thick oily compound, known in the perfume industry as iris butter.
Irises are extensively grown as ornamental plants in gardens. The most commonly found garden iris is the bearded German Iris and its numerous cultivars. Various wild forms and naturally occurring hybrids of Iris pallida and I. variegata form the basis of most all modern hybrid bearded iris. Median forms of bearded irisare derived from crosses between tall and dwarf varieties. Other iris types commonly found in gardens are I. siberica and its hybrids (Siberian irises) and I. ensata and its hybrids (Japanese irises).
The bearded irises are easy to cultivate and propagate, and have become very popular in gardens. They grow in any good free garden soil, the smaller and more delicate species needing only the aid of turf ingredients, either peat or loam, to keep it light and open in texture. The earliest to bloom are the dwarf forms of Iris pumila, which blossom during March, April and May; and during the latter month and the following one most of the larger growing 'tall bearded' varieties, such as I. germanica, florentina, pallida, variegata, amoena, flavescens, sambucina, neglecta, ruthenica and their modern hybrids.
Rhizomes of ornamental irisesUp to 300 species have been placed in the genus Iris. Modern classifications, starting with W. R. Dykes' 1913 book, have subdivided them. Dykes referred to the major subgroupings as sections, but later authors have generally called them subgenera, while essentially retaining his groupings. Like some older sources, the influential classification by G. I. Rodionenko removed some groups (particularly the bulbous irises) to separate genera, but even if this is done the genus remains large and several subgenera, sections and/or subsections are recognised within it.
There are six subgenera, of which five are restricted to the Old World, and the sixth (subgenus Limniris) with a Holarctic distribution; the two largest subgenera are further divided into sections.
Iris subgenus Iris
bearded irises, growing from rhizomes.
Iris subgenus Iris sect. Iris
Iris albertii Regel
Iris albicans Lange
Iris aphylla L. – Stool Iris
Iris attica (Boiss. & Heldr.) Hayek
Iris cypriana Foster & Baker
Iris germanica L. – German Iris
Iris imbricata Lindl.
Iris lutescens Lam. – Crimean Iris
Iris marsica I.Ricci & Colas.
Iris mesopotamica – Mesopotamian Iris
Iris pallida Lam. – Sweet Iris
Iris pumila L.
Iris reichenbachii Heuff.
Iris sambucina L.
Iris scariosa Willd. ex Link
Iris schachtii Markgr.
Iris suaveolens Boiss. & Reut.
Iris subbiflora Brot.
Iris taochia Woronow ex Grossh.
Iris variegata L. – Hungarian Iris
Iris subgenus Iris sect. Oncocyclus
Iris acutiloba C.A.Mey.
Iris assadiana Chaudhary, Kirkw. & C. Weymolauth
Iris atrofusca Bak.
Iris atropurpurea Bak.
Iris barnumae Bak. & Fost.
Iris bismarckiana Reg.
Iris camillae Grossh.
Iris gatesii Foster
Iris haynei (Bak.) Mallet.
Iris iberica Hoffm.
Iris loretii Barbey.
Iris mariae Barbey.
Iris meda Stapf
Iris paradoxa Steven
Iris petrana Dinsm.
Iris sari Schott ex Bak.
Iris sofarana Fost.
Iris susiana L. – Mourning Iris
Iris subgenus Iris sect. Psammiris
Iris bloudowii Ledeb.
Iris humilis Georgi
Iris subgenus Iris sect. Hexapogon
Iris falcifolia Bunge
Iris longiscapa Ledeb.
Iris subgenus Iris sect. Pseudoregelia
Iris goniocarpa Bak.
Iris hookeriana Fost.
Iris kamaonensis Wall.
Iris tigrida Bunge ex Ledeb.
Iris subgenus Iris sect. Regelia
Iris hoogiana Dykes
Iris korolkowii Regel
Iris stolonifera Maxim.
Iris subgenus Limniris
beardless irises, growing from rhizomes.
Iris subgenus Limniris sect. Limniris
Iris bracteata S.Wats. – Siskiyou Iris
Iris brevicaulis Raf. – Zigzag Iris
Iris bulleyana Dykes
Iris caespitosa Pall. & Link
Iris chrysographes Dykes
Iris chrysophylla T.J.Howell – Yellowleaf Iris
Iris clarkei Bak.
Iris crocea Jacquem. ex R.C.Foster
Iris delavayi Micheli
Iris douglasiana Herbert – Douglas Iris
Iris ensata Thunb. – Russian Iris
Iris fernaldii R.C.Foster – Fernald's Iris
Iris foetidissima L. – Stinking Iris
Iris forrestii Dykes
Iris fulva Ker-Gawl. – Copper Iris
Iris giganticaerulea Small – Giant Blue Iris
Iris graminea L.
Iris grant-duffii Bak.
Iris hartwegii Baker – Hartweg's Iris
Iris hexagona Walt. – Dixie Iris
Iris innominata Henderson – Del Norte Iris
Iris kerneriana Asch. & Sint.
Iris koreana Nakai
Iris lactea Pall.
Iris laevigata Fisch. – Rabbitear Iris
Iris lazica Albov
Iris loczyi Kanitz
Iris longipetala Herb.
Iris lorea Jank.
Iris macrosiphon Torr. – Bowltube Iris
Iris missouriensis Nutt. – Rocky Mountain Iris
Iris monnieri DC.
Iris munzii R.C. Foster – Munz's Iris
Iris nelsonii Randolph – Abbeville iris
Iris orientalis Mill. – Yellowband Iris
Iris pontica Zapal.
Iris prismatica Pursh ex Ker-Gawl. – Slender Blue Iris
Iris pseudacorus L. – Yellow Iris
Iris purdyi Eastw. – Purdy's Iris
Iris ruthenica Ker-Gawl.
Iris sanguinea Hornem. ex Donn – Japanese Iris - ja:アヤメ
Iris setosa Pallas ex Link – Beachhead Iris
Iris sibirica L. – Siberian Iris
Iris sintenisii Janka
Iris spuria L. – Seashore Iris
Iris tenax Dougl. ex Lindl. – Toughleaf Iris
Iris tenuifolia Pall.
Iris tenuissima Dykes – Longtube Iris
Iris tridentata Pursh – Savanna Iris
Iris unguicularis Poir.
Iris verna L. – Dwarf Violet Iris
Iris versicolor L. – Harlequin Blueflag
Iris virginica L. – Virginia Iris
Iris wilsonii C.H.Wright
Iris subgenus Limniris sect. Lophiris
Iris confusa Sealy
Iris cristata Ait. – Crested Iris
Iris gracilipes A.Gray
Iris japonica Thunb.
Iris lacustris Nutt. – Dwarf Lake Iris
Iris milesii Foster
Iris tectorum Maxim. – Wall Iris
Iris tenuis S.Wats. – Clackamas Iris
Iris wattii Baker ex Hook.f.
Iris subgenus Xiphium (syn. genus Xiphion), a group of bulbous irises.
Iris subgenus Xiphium sect. Xiphium
Iris boissieri Henriq
Iris filifolia Boiss.
Iris juncea Poir.
Iris latifolia Mill.
Iris serotina Willk. in Willk. & Lange
Iris tingitana Boiss. & Reut. – Morocco Iris
Iris xiphium L. – Spanish Iris. or Dutch Iris
Iris subgenus Nepalensis (syn. genus Junopsis); also bulbous.
Iris subgenus Nepalensis sect. Nepalensis
Iris collettii Hook.
Iris decora Wall.
Iris subgenus Scorpiris (syn. genus Juno); also bulbous.
Iris subgenus Scorpiris sect. Scorpiris
Iris albomarginata R.C.Foster
Iris aucheri (Baker) Sealy
Iris bucharica Foster
Iris caucasica Hoffm.
Iris cycloglossa Wendelbo
Iris fosteriana Aitch. & Baker
Iris graeberiana Tubergen ex Sealy
Iris magnifica Vved.
Iris palaestina (Bak.) Boiss.
Iris persica L.
Iris planifolia (Mill.) Fiori & Paol.
Iris pseudocaucasica Grossh.
Iris regis-uzziae Feinbrun
Iris rosenbachiana Reg.
Iris vicaria Vved.
Iris subgenus Hermodactyloides (syn. genus Iridodictyum); also bulbous.
Iris subgenus Hermodactyloides sect. Hermodactyloides
Iris bakeriana Foster
Iris danfordiae (Baker) Boiss.
Iris histrio Rchb.f.
Iris histrioides (G.F.Wilson) S.Arn.
Iris reticulata Bieb.
Iris vartanii Fost.
Iris winogradowii Fomin
Some authors regard the Snake's Head Iris as lying outside genus Iris, and classify it as Hermodactylus tuberosus.