Blue Flag

Image retrieved from Wacky Badger on Feb. 27, 2013.

The blue flag species was one of the most popular of all American Indian medicines. The Penobscots valued it for treating more ailments, while other tribes assigned more specific roles to this member of the iris family. To relieve the swelling and pain associated with sores and bruises , the root was boiled in water and then pounded between stones. The pulped root mass was applied in a wet dressing and the affected part rinsed with the water in which the root was boiled. As a variation on this treatment, the Tadoussac tribe of Quebec combined the whole crushed plant with flour and applied the mixture as a poultice for bodily pain.
Surprisingly, blue flag was not employed for the above purposes by general medical practitioners of the United States. It became an official drug and was entered in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia from 1820 through 1985 when it was utilized as an agent to induce vomiting or to promote drastic purging of the bowels. It was also used to promote the collection and excretion of excess bodily fluids.
The generic name, Iris, is derived from the Greek word for rainbow, while its specific name, versicolor, means "to change color" in Latin. The blue flag iris can be found in wet meadows, marshes, and damp meadows from Newfoundland to Manitoba south to Arkansas and Florida. The violet blue flowers are veined with yellow, green and white and are usually in bloom from May through July.
- pp. 141-142, Earth Medicine- Earth Foods by Michael A. Weiner (1972)

blue flag, newfoundland, manitoba