Copyright © 1995 Brother Eric Vogel, St. Mary's College
Rocky Mountain Iris
Iris missouriensis Nutt.
The Rocky Mountain Iris is a perennial herb which grows about 8-20 inches tall., Usually bears from 1 to 4 variegated violet-blue or nearly white flowers about 2-3 inches long. Flowers from mid May through July in mountains. It is found in open wet meadows from lowest valleys to about 9,000 feet. Reported by Wyeth to be found towards the source of the Missouri. Found on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in Southeastern Idaho.
Caution: Rootstocks, roots, and young shoots may be toxic. Should never be taken internally, but sharp, bitter taste normally inhibits eating. There can be a severe allergic reaction to handling the plant.
Rocky Mountain iris was employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat various complaints, but especially as an external application for skin problems. It was for a time an officinal American medicinal plant, but is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism. The root is emetic and odontalgic. An infusion has been used in the treatment of kidney and bladder complaints, stomach aches etc. The pulped root is placed in the tooth cavity or on the gum in order to bring relief from toothache. A decoction of the root has been used as ear drops to treat earaches. A poultice of the mashed roots has been applied to rheumatic joints and also used as a salve on venereal sores Caution is advised in the use of this plant, see the notes above on toxicity. A paste of the ripe seeds has been used as a dressing on burns. (PFAF)
Requires a moist soil, growing well in a moist border, but intolerant of stagnant water. Easily grown in a sunny position so long as the soil is wet in the spring. Division, best done after flowering. Another report says that it is best done in spring or early autumn. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.