040. Iris pseudacorus. Yellow water flag.
Also see 039. Iris florentina. Florentine orris, or iris.
Synonyma. Iris Palustris. Pharm. Edin.
Iris palustris lutea. Gerard Emac. 50.
Acorus adulterinus. Bauh. Pin. p. 74.
Acorus palustris, &c. Park. Theat. p. 1219.
Yellow Water Flower-de-luce. Raii Hist. p. 1185. Synop. 374.
Iris caule inflexo, foliis ensiformibus; petalis erectis minimis reflexis imberbibus. Hal. Stirp. Helv. n. 1260.
Iris Pseud-Acorus. Lightfoot Fl. Scot. p. 86. Withering Bot. Arrang. p. 39. Curt. Fl. Lond.
Class Triandria. Ord. Monogynia. L. Gen. Plant. 59.
Ess. Gen. Ch. Cor. 6-petala, inaequalis; petalis geniculato-patentibus. Stigmata petaliformia, cucullato-bilabiata. Thunb. Diss. de Iride.
Spec. Char. I. imberbis, foliis ensiformibus, petalis alternis, stigmate minoribus. Thunb. l. c.
The root is perennial, thicker than the thumb, of an irregular shape, horizontal, on the outside blackish, covered with rigid fibres, and puts forth many long whitish perpendicular slender roots; within it is spongy, and of a yellowish red colour; the leaves which grow from the root are upright, broad, sword-shaped, and at the bottom riding, or closely embracing, each other; those on the stalk are short, alternate, and sheathe the joints of the stem: the stalk is upright, round, smooth, alternately inclined from joint to joint: the flowers are large, showy, of a yellow colour, and stand upon short branches, which proceed from the joints of the stem: the corolla divides into six segments or petals, of these, the three inner ones are small and erect, the three outermost are large, of a roundish oval shape, turning back, and painted near the bale with reddish lines: the calyx is a sheath, or spatha, of two, three, or four valves, according to the number of the flowers: the filaments are flat and tapering; the antherae oblong, yellowish at the edges, purplish, and bent down by the stigmata: the germen is triangular, and placed below the corolla; the style is short and slender; the stigma divides into three petalous expansions of a yellow colour, these are oblong, bent outwards, and irregularly serrated at the extremity: the capsule is triangular, and divided into three cells, which contain numerous fiat seeds of a yellow colour.
This plant is common in marshes, and on the banks of rivers, and is rendered very conspicuous by its large yellow flowers, which appear in the beginning of July. It formerly had a place in the London Pharm. under the name of Gladeolus luteus. The root is without smell, but has an acrid stiptic taste, and its juice on being muffed up the nostrils, produces a burning heat in the nose and mouth, accompanied with a copious discharge from these organs: hence it is recommended both as an errhine and sialagogue. [Vide Armstrong on the diseases of children, p. 146. Cullen. M. M. v. ii. p. 439.] This root is such a powerful astringent, that it has been used instead of galls in the making of ink, [Phil. Trans. No. 117. p. 397.] and also for the purpose of dying black; [Vide Pennant's Tour in Scotland, 1772. p. 214. Lightfoot's Flor. Scot. v. 2. p. 86.] and from this quality it has been successfully employed as a medicine for the cure of diarrhoeas. [Blair's Observations, &c. p. 78.] When given with this intention, the root is to be well dried; for the fresh root and its juice are strongly cathartic, insomuch that 80 drops of the latter produced repeated evacuations, after jalap, gamboge, &c. had failed, and by continuing its use in an increased dose, it cured an inveterate dropsy. [——" By this time the strongest cathartic-, such as Jalap, Gamboge, Mercury, Sec. were quite ineffectual: whereupon Dr. Rutherford ordered 80 drops of the succus radicis, Iridis palustris, to be given every hour or two in a little syrup of buckthorn, which had very immediate effects, making him pass several Scots pints of water by stool that very night." Medical Essays, vol. 5. p. 94.——We may here remark, that this juice is very uncertain in its operation: that which is expressed from the old roots is the most active.] Hence Bergius says, "Virtus, recent, hydragoga, purgans. siccat. adstringens." The expressed juice is likewise said to be an useful application to serpiginous eruptions and scrophulous tumours. [Murray Ap. Med. vol. 5. p 277. Lewis Mat. Med. 359.]
Medical Botany, 1790-1794, was written by William Woodville, M. D., and illustrated by James Sowerby.