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(Iris family)


Members of this moderately large family of 800 species in 60 genera are found in tropical and temperate regions. The principal centres of distribution are southern Africa and tropical America.

Crocus sativus provides saffron which is used for dyeing and flavouring. Saffron has also been used in exanthematous diseases to promote the eruption.

[Summary yet to be added]

Aristea abyssinica Pax
(syns Aristea alata Baker ssp abyssinica Weim., Aristea cognata N.E.Br. ex Weim., Aristea johnstoniana Rendle, Aristea tayloriana Rendle
Blue-Eyed Grass, Miniature Iris

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Crocus sativus L.

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Gladiolus L.

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Gladiolus communis L.

Pammel (1911) listed this species as having irritant properties.

Gladiolus italicus Mill.
(syns Gladiolus segetum Ker Gawl.)
Italian Gladiolus

Pammel (1911) listed Gladiolus segetum as having irritant properties.

Iris L.

Contact dermatitis from Iris species was reported by Shelmire (1940); Hjorth (1961) observed a patient who was contact sensitive to a blue iris. A patch test to a petal of the blue iris was positive, but negative to the green leaf. Patch tests to the petal and green leaf of a yellow iris were both negative. The patient was also contact sensitive to Rosa (fam. Rosaceae).

Dioscorides in the 1st Century A.D. noted that beating the plants provoked sneezing (Gunther 1959).

Iris foetidissima L.
Gladdon, Stinking Iris

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Iris germanica L.
Common Iris, Flag Iris, Flag Lily, Fleur de Lys, German Iris

According to Aplin (1976), the plant is acrid and irritant.

Iris germanica L. var florentina Dykes
(syn. Iris florentina L.)
Fleur de Lys

The dried rhizome of this and other Iris species provides orris root which smells of violets (Viola, fam. Violaceae) and which yields essence of violets used in perfumery.

Application of Iris florentina to healthy skin has been reported to produce redness, slight burning, eczematoid and urticarial eruptions (Piffard 1881).

The root was formerly inserted into wounds as "issue peas", and produced eczematoid and urticarial eruptions (White 1887). "Violet water" produced dermatitis on the chest of a girl; the solution has a strong odour of orris root which was the usual substitute for the genuine perfume of violets in such preparations (White 1889). Ramirez & Eller (1930) reported three cases of dermatitis from orris root. Glossitis and gingivitis resulted from a dentifrice which contained orris root (Winter 1948). Preparations containing orris root can cause pustular conjunctivitis and recurrent corneal ulceration (Duke-Elder 1965, Duke-Elder & MacFaul 1972b). Orris root in adhesive plasters has also caused dermatitis (DeWolf 1931).

Orris root was said to be allergenic for atopic dermatitis (Coca et al. 1931), and to produce vasomotor rhinitis (King 1926), coryza, asthma, and skin eruptions (Greenberg & Lester 1954, Klarmann 1958).

Oil of orris root is derived from orris root. Concrete of orris root was said to be a common allergen (Greenberg & Lester 1954). Orris root in raw form, which formerly accounted for many allergic reactions, has been replaced by a refined orris root oil which is considered to be non-reactive (Burks 1962).

Iris pseudacorus L.
Yellow Flag

The seeds of the plant, named tiger lily seeds, used as a bracelet caused dermatitis of the wrist, later of the arms and face. Patch tests to the seed and leaf produced positive reactions (Calnan 1970).

Iris versicolor L.
Blue Flag, Harlequin Blue Flag

A sensitising agent is present in the rootstock and other parts of the plant (Muenscher 1951, McCord 1962).

Tritonia gladiolaris Goldblatt & J.C.Manning
(syns Gladiolus lineatus Salisb., Ixia gladiolaris Lam., Tritonia lineata Ker Gawl.)
Lined Tritonia, Yellow Tritonia

[Information available but not yet included in database]


  • Duke-Elder S, MacFaul PA (1972b) System of Ophthalmology, Vol. XIV. Injuries Part 2. Non-Mechanical Injuries. London: Henry Kimpton [WorldCat]
  • Pammel LH (1911) A Manual of Poisonous Plants. Chiefly of North America, with Brief Notes on Economic and Medicinal Plants, and Numerous Illustrations. Cedar Rapids, IA: Torch Press [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • White JC (1889) Some unusual forms of dermatitis venenata. Boston Medical and Surgical Journal 121(24): 583-584
  • [Others yet to be added]

Richard J. Schmidt

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