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Iris Flower Meaning: Royalty, Faith & the Symbolic Trinity

Iris flower meaning includes faith, wisdom, cherished friendship, hope and valor. In the Victorian language of flowers, iris flowers also mean “my compliments” and “promise in love.” 

Iris Name Meaning

The name “iris” is derived from the Greek word for rainbow. This is due to the fact that iris flowers come in nearly 300 species that vary widely in form and color. Iris flowers bloom in every color of the rainbow as well as pure white, lavender, pink and brown. Some are multi-colored. Others have a “beard” of fuzzy hairs at the base of the petal.

Iris Flower Meaning Faith

Iris Meaning Table of Contents

Iris Meaning and the Fleur-de-Lis

The fleur-de-lis, one of the most well-known of all symbols, is derived from the shape of the iris flower. Fleur-de-lis literally means “flower of the lily” (French).

Although the lily and iris are two different families of plants, this symbol is generally thought to be associated most closely with the iris. In the Middle Ages, the wild iris was referred to as “lies”, “leys” or “lis.”

Trifold Symbol of Faith, Wisdom, Love

Fleur-de-Lis

The fleur-de-lis has been used extensively in heraldry, religion, the military, education, sports, logos, scouting, architecture and art. The fleur-de-lis is a symbol of the royal family in France and is the state flower of Tennessee. The iris is the emblem of both France and Florence, Italy.

The three petals of this stylized iris symbol are perfect for representing anything that comes in a set of three. For example, the fleur-de-lis is the main element in the logo of most scouting organizations.

In this context, the three petals represent the three aspects of the Scout promise: duty to God and country, helping others and keeping the Scout Law.

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Lupine Majesty by Kathleen Karlsen
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Iris Flower Meaning Faith, Love and Wisdom

In a broader sense, the three petals of the iris flower mean faith, love and wisdom. These are viewed as central aspects of a balanced spiritual life. Ultimately, the concept of three forces united as one is a dominant theme in many world religions.

In Buddhism, there are Three Jewels: the guru, the teachings and the community. In Hinduism there is a triad of three deities: Brahma (father), Vishnu (son) and Shiva (spirit). Likewise Christianity has a Holy Trinity: Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

The symbolic petals are sometimes colorized as yellow (wisdom), pink (love) and blue (faith). The symbol is associated with the heart or a trifold flame in the heart, often included in depictions of the Virgin Mary or Saint Joseph. Irises were used in gardens devoted to the Virgin Mary. The blade-shaped foliage denotes the sorrows which “pierced her heart.”

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Iris Meaning in the Language of Flowers

Other Flowers Meaning Faith

In addition to the iris, there are several other flowers meaning faith. Flowers have often been used as a symbol of true love and faithfulness in romance. The following are flowers that mean faith and fidelity in the language of flowers. Links to full articles available for selected flowers.

Calla Lily Compass Flower Daisy
Dandelion Iris Lemon Blossoms
Passion Flower Veronica Violet

Iris Meaning in Dreams

Iris flowers in dreams represent both faith and perseverance. Like other flowers that grow from bulbs, they symbolize renewed life. Even during periods of dormancy, the flower is waiting to grow in the right environment and circumstances. Dreaming of an iris can be a message of positive things coming into your life: new friends, greater accomplishments, or good news.

The color of the iris flower in a dream may also be significant. Purple irises are particularly auspicious, indicating respect and royalty. Violet is related to transformation. White irises mean purity. In some European traditions, the iris is related to friendship. Dreaming of one or more irises can be related to positive social events and experiences.

Read full article on Flower Color Meaning.

White and Purple Iris Symbolism

Detail from Lupines & Irises Painting
By Kathleen Karlsen

Iris Flower Meaning in China

Its soft, fluttering petals remind the Chinese people of butterfly wings, flapping gently in the breeze. The flower is known as Tze Hu-tieh or “The Purple Butterfly.” Iris flowers bloom towards the beginning of the growing season. They are sometimes viewed as an embodiment of the spirit of early summer. 

Growing Iris Flowers

Iris flowers are a genus with hundreds flowering varieties. Irises are grown from bulbs or rhizomes and have long, flat leaves. Irises are used widely in gardens, especially the bearded varieties. Irises are easy to cultivate and propagate.

Iris flowers do best in full sun. They should not be shaded by other, larger plants. They prefer neutral to slightly acidic soil. Iris bulbs are often planted in groups of three with the groups a couple feet apart.

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Author Kathleen Karlsen

Kathleen Karlsen is a musician, artist, writer and speaker. She is the author of two books (Flower Symbols and Vocal Medicine) and over 200 articles. Kathleen, her husband Andrew and their five children live in Bozeman, Montana. More about Kathleen Karlsen.

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IRIS ARTICLE SUMMARY

This article on iris flower meaning covers the history of irises and the fleur-de-lis symbol used in logos and décor around the world. Contents include the iris flower name meaning, the symbolism of iris flowers in dreams, iris flower meaning in China and growing iris flowers.

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