Irises form the Iridaceae botanical family. In Spanish, as in English, the word “iris” may refer to both the flower, or the coloured membrane behind the cornea of the eye. However, the name “lirio” is also used to refer to this flower, but sometimes applied to identify lily flowers (more commonly known as azucenas). To add to the confusion, water lilies are called “lirios acuáticos”, almost an oxymoron, since they belong to a completely different botanical family (Nymphaeaceae).
This confusion seems to be present also in some translations from French. The French word for lily is “lis”, so the well known French symbol of the “Fleur de Lys” or “Fleur de Lis” leads to think that the stylized 3-petal flower emblem (photo below, left) represents a yellow lily. However, there is factual evidence to whack this belief without doubt. One species of wild iris (Iris pseudacorus), known as yellow flag iris (photo below, right), grows wildly in marshes, particularly by the river Lys (Leie), running through France and Belgium; it was only natural that French kings would have the gumption to choose this local flower as one of their emblems, and it is well accepted that the iris flower was named after the river. Kudos to Spanish speaking people and linguists, who translated the name as “Flor de Lis” not “Flor del lirio.”
In my backyard, there is only one type of iris, the bearded iris (Iris germanica), in its very common purple shade (photo at the top of this post.) Originally from Southern Europe, nowadays there are close to 60,000 cultivars of bearded irises, naturalized all over Europe and other countries around the world, and may be found in many different colours and sizes. Although daffodils and tulips mark the beginning of spring, irises, by any name, are the definite sign of the warm weather season in my gardening zone 6B, so it is now time to transplant tomato, tomatillo, pepper and tender herb seedlings from pots indoors to the ground, and start direct seed sowing of squash, cucumber, and beans in earnest.
I am joining Cee’s Flower of the Day (FOTD) Challenge for May 23, 2021, featuring a bearded iris!