A perennial plant with sword-shaped leaves and highly scented, pale blue flowers. The fleshy rootstock (rhizomes) grows just below and along the ground. The rhizomes are dug up in August and freed of the rootlets and brown outer bark, and then they are dried.
Orris Root, also called Iris, Flag Iris, Pale Iris, and Orris Butter, consists of the rhizomes, or underground stems, of three species of iris: Iris germanica, Iris florentina, and Iris pattida, which are virtually indistinguishable medicinally. Orris Root is a fixative used in potpourri for its colour and its scent, which is similar to Violets. Most commercial orris is produced in Italy where it grows wild.
Orris Root can be used as flavouring in candies, and as a base for toothpastes and perfume. Orris Root tea was used to treat colds, coughs, diarrhoea, and dropsy. Orris Root is still used to strengthen gums and freshen breath. Orris Root has diuretic, emetic, and cathartic properties. Orris Root can also be used for colic and liver congestion.