BLUE FLAG, Iris versicolor

Blue Flag Plant

I remember blue flags from when I was a little kid. We didn’t call them blue flags or iris. We just called them flags. We used the stiff blade-like leaves as our trusty swords as we fought duels and pirates and bad guys who to steal our trips ( now, those were the good old days). When I got older and had a home on my own, we planted blue flags and other irises.
I’ll never forget back in the forties. I was taking the kids hiking. At the base of the Wasatch Mountains near Bell Canyon, we came upon some old, old graves. They must have been pioneer graves. They had these blue flags growing around the graves and headstones. Now the blue flags are perennial and they do like a lot of water. I just wondered how those blue flowers stayed alive on that old dry mountain all those years. I guess those blue flags mush have figured that something had to look after those poor folks who were buried there on the mountainside. They sure made the graves look cared-for and not so lonesome.

Blue flags are native to Eastern North America. The rhizome, or the horizontal root, is the main part used although the leaf is sometimes used for burns, bruises and poultices.

Most everyone knows what blue flag looks like. It has a flat blade leaf and a beautiful blossom was the model for the French fleur-de-lis that was the emblem of French royalty.

One common name for the blue flag is the “liver lily” because it is such a good liver tonic. However, don’t use the fresh root; use the dried root, over one year old. Blue flag is a powerful hepatic (liver) stimulant. It will clear the bile ducts of catarrhal obstructions and restore the normal flow of bile. Blue flag is helpful in overcoming the milk-colored or clay colored stools in adults that indicate a sluggish liver. Blue flag is one of the main herbs in Grandma’s herbal Liver formula.
The oleoresin in the root is a purgative to the liver and is best used in small doses. In smaller doses it will also help to overcome a sick or a bilious feeling in the stomach or intestines.
The fresh root is quite acid and if taken internally will probably produce nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, purging and gas pains in the stomach and intestines. It can be used as an emetic, to cause vomiting and an anthelmintic or vermifuge to help to get rid of worms and parasites. The dried root is a hepatic to help the river, a diuretic to aid the kidneys, a cathartic,as a mild laxative to help the bowel, an altenative to alter the condition of the body, an antisyohilitic to help overcome syphilis, and a cholagogue, to increase the flow of bile into the intestines.

Blue flag is not only helpful in aiding the purifying of our blood through the liver, but it is also very helpful to our spleen and the glands in our lymphatic system. This is why it is effective in helping to overcome impetigo, eczema and a bad complexion. It is also beneficial to the secretion glands of the intestines, and stimulates the flow of saliva.

The eastern Native Americans thought highly of the blue flag. One old Indian had a bad pain under his right rib. He said goodbye to his squaw and his close friend, for he didn’t think he would be back. He walked along the stream, down the valley for three days. He had seen some blue flag down this way while on a hunting party. Sometimes his side hurt so bad he couldn’t walk. He would have to lie down for awhile. He found the blue flag on the fifth day. He said his prayers and chants, then pulled three roots, washed them and chewed on one. It made him throw up. He built a fire and roasted the other two. He chewed on them for a couple of days. Soon he felt better. He thanked the herb and started home.

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