Common name: Orris root
Scientific name: Iris x germanica
Uses: Decorative, culinary, medicinal.Attractive flowers. Use for drying. Use for fragrance and pot-pourris. Use for dye (blue). It is also used to add a bitter flavor to some liqueurs, powdered root adds a refreshing scent to linen, dried root can be chewed to freshen breath and as a potpourri fixative.
History: Also known as the Iris. Orris refers to the rhizome of this plant. The Iris was first cultivated commercially in Florence Italy during the middle ages. Florence remains a center for orris root production and perfume making.
Description: Stout rhizomatous roots which smell like violets, sword shaped leaves to 1 1/2 feet long and 1 1/2 inch wide and overlapping at the base.
Plant type: Perennial
Hardiness: Hardiness zone 5-7.
Height: 2-3 feet
Width: less than 2 feet, but clumping
Soil: rich and well drained soil with a pH of 6.7-7.3
Pests: none noted
Disease: Usually free of disease
Cultivation: Plant rhizomes in early spring leaving half of each rhizome above the surface to prevent rot. It usually takes two to three years for the plant to reach maturity. Plants become wider as underground rhizomes multiply.
Propagation: Division in late spring or early autumn.
Flowering period: May to June
Flower color: white with blue or purple
Harvesting: Harvest roots at maturity. Wash and split them; then cut or grind into small pieces before drying on paper.