Excerpt from The Wildflowers of Canada, Algrove Publishing,
BLUE FLAG. IRIS VERSICOLOR. (IRIS FAMILY.)
Perennial, whole plant smooth; rootstocks contracted at
the nodes; stems rather stout; leaves quite long, equitant,
mostly clustered at the base of the stem; flowers on short
peduncles, large, blue; the three outer divisions of the perianth
variegated with yellow, spreading.
Blue flag is one of those hardy flowers that do not hide their
beauty in the darkness of woods, but parade it, as if conscious
of it, in the broad light of open meadows. We may well forgive
a certain lack of modesty in so handsome a plant. None of
the cultivated flags can surpass this native species in beauty
and grace of form. Some of our native species have the petals
prettily bearded, but in the blue flag, they are masked.
Iris versicolor grows from Canada south to the Gulf. It is
quite a common plant throughout its range, probably opening
its showy flowers in May or June. The root of the blue flag
is strongly astringent, forming the basis of several nostrums
in high repute among country folk.
The pretty name, Iris, is that of the attendant of
Juno who personified the rainbow. The wealth of color displayed
by these flowers well merits the name. They are veritable
rainbows of the earth. Versicolor means "of varied
colors." So the generic and specific names express pretty
much the same idea.