Iris flower meaning

Iris Flower Meaning: The Meaning Of Iris Flower (Symbolism, Tattoos, Color)

The iris flower is popular during the summer because of its versatility and unique beauty. The flower has over 300 species and comes in various colors suited for every occasion. In addition, irises are ancient flowers, so they exist in several myths and folklore stories.

So, what does the Iris flower stand for? The iris flower symbolizes wisdom, communication, nobility, courage, faith, hope, and purity. However, since the flower grows in various parts of the world, it has many meanings depending on culture and color.

For the most part, irises have maintained their meaning to this day. However, read on if you want to learn more about this beautiful bloom and its history.

Blue Iris flower

Ancient Stories and Meanings of the Iris Flower

Iris flower bouquet

The 300 species of iris flowers are found in the Northern Hemisphere, Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America. Therefore, many stories mention the iris and help give a little perspective to the associated meanings of the flower today.

Iris Flower Meaning to Ancient Greeks

Greek goddess Iris and Iris flowers.

The word iris translates to a rainbow in the Greek language. It is also the name used for the Greek goddess of the rainbow Iris. Iris was a messenger of the Olympian gods who sent messages from the gods to the people. Iris would travel on the rainbow’s arc to pass these messages hence the meaning of the word iris.

Because Iris was the bridge between heaven and earth, the Greeks associated the flower with communication and safe passage to the afterlife. It is, therefore, a common practice for Greeks to plant iris flowers on women’s gravesites. The flowers are to help summon the goddess Iris so she can give safe passage to lost souls to the afterlife.

The Greeks also believed the rainbow was part of the goddess’s colorful robe or veil. So, they took the irises that grew on earth as a representation of heaven.

Iris Flower Meaning to Ancient Egyptians

Syrian Iris

Irises were introduced to Egypt during the 16th century BC from Syria. Egyptians were well aware of Greek mythology, but they used the flower mainly to symbolize royalty, victory, and power.

Ancient Egyptians would use different depictions of the flower to decorate scepters used by pharaohs and other noble men. Besides that, they would also use the flower to make oils and perfumes.

Iris Flower Meaning in France

French Iris

The fleur-de-lis is an old French symbol used by the French monarchy to represent French royalty, perfection, light, and life. Fleur-de-lis translates to the lily flower, but historians argue that the symbol resembles a wild iris flower.

The story of how it became a symbol of French royalty starts with Clovis, the Merovingian king of the Franks. After his conversion to Christianity, legend says that an angel presented him with a golden lily (or iris) to signify his purification. Another story says that Clovis was guided through the river by waterlilies or irises and went on to be victorious in battle.


In the 20th century, King Louis VII was the first to use the fleur-de-lis symbol on his shield. Later, the English began using it on their coat of arms to stress their claim to the French throne. After 1483 the symbol became a way to identify a person’s social status and supervise the granting of armor insignia.

Throughout history, variations of the fleur-de-lis have been used by organizations such as the Catholic church and American soldiers to represent military power and strength.

Iris Flower Meaning in Asia

Iris typhifolia

The iris is usually presented with three petals; according to the Chinese, these petals resemble a butterfly’s wings. Therefore, in China, people refer to the iris flower as a butterfly. In the past, Chinese people would place the flower in their homes to attract positive energy and protection. This tradition lasts to this day.

In Japan, the iris flower represents strength, clarity, and kindness. It is a popular gift for people who need a pick me up after going through a rough patch or for people embarking on a new journey.

Iris Flower Meaning in Spirituality

Iris in a zen pond

The goddess iris carried messages to earth from the Olympian gods, which is why the flower is associated with wisdom. With that line of thought, spiritually, the iris represents spiritual enlightenment. The flower also symbolizes a spiritual guide, teacher, or mentor who helps you on your spiritual journey.

The iris flower also represents the resilience of the human spirit. This connection is from the water iris, which grows and blooms in muddy and murky conditions into a beautiful flower. As much as life can get messy or hard at times, humans continue to evolve and adapt, becoming more enlightened.

In Christianity, the Catholic church used the iris to represent the holy trinity because of its three petals. In Islam, the flower symbolizes honor, devotion, and remembrance. Muslims place irises on the graves of their loved ones for this reason.

Iris Flower Tattoo Meaning

Iris Tattoo

Flowers are a great tattoo choice, especially for women. In the past, iris flower tattoos were used to make women more beautiful during traditional rituals. They were also seen as a symbol of femininity and health. Today, you can get iris tattoos in various colors representing different things, from wisdom to innocence and even cleanliness.

Below is a table summarizing the different colors of iris tattoos and their meanings.

Iris Tattoo ColorMeaning
Purple irisRespect, gratitude, wisdom, royalty
Blue irisOptimism, hope, faith, devotion
White irisCompassion, sympathy, humility, patience
Yellow irisTradition, bonding, passion, love
Black irisGrowth, pride, honor, renewal, grandeur

Iris Flower Meanings by Color

Mixed iris flowers

The iris flower and the rainbow are no different as the flower comes in many vibrant colors. That is why irises are versatile, as you can gift this flower to anyone for different occasions. However, if you want to give more meaningful bouquets, keep reading to find out what each color of the iris flower means.

1. White Iris Flower Meaning

White Iris

White irises symbolize angelic messages, faith, purity, innocence, hope, and sympathy. They are ideal gifts for new mothers, brides, graduations, christenings, and retirement gifts as they represent new beginnings. They are also used on graves as a message of honor and well wishes for the departed on their journey to the afterlife.

Below is a list of white irises in case you want to grow them in your home garden.

  • White Siberian iris
  • White-bearded iris
  • White dutch iris
  • White African iris

2. Blue Iris Flower Meaning

Blue Iris

Blue irises are the go-to option when you want to add a pop of color to your bouquet. This is because some species of the flower have a natural blue hue. Blue irises symbolize faith, hope, trust, and loyalty. Iris species that come in blue are;

  • Blue Dutch iris
  • Salt marsh or butterfly iris
  • Bearded iris
  • Victoria falls iris 

You can gift this flower to your friends or relatives on birthdays, wedding anniversaries, or engagements and for wishing them good luck.

3. Purple Iris Flower Meaning

Purple Iris

The purple iris represents royalty, respect, honor, goodwill, understanding, and forgiveness. They are a perfect gift for yourself or any other person you hold in high regard, like, a parent, teacher, or mentor. They are also a great choice to give to your first date and spouse on your anniversary and Mother’s Day. Purple irises can do well in your home garden too. Some purple irises include;

  • Dwarf lake iris
  • Purple Douglas iris
  • Wild flag iris
  • Japanese water iris
  • Caesar’s brother iris
  • Roof iris
  • Purple fan iris
  • Stinking iris

4. Red Iris Flower Meaning

Red represents the root chakra that rules your primal instincts. Your gut feeling is the first line of defense in life because it often leads us to protect ourselves by cautioning us about someone or something. Therefore, red irises represent security, faithfulness, love, passion, and romance. They make a great gift for your spouse on any occasion.

Red irises include;

  • Copper iris
  • Red bearded iris
  • Red dwarf bearded iris
  • Louisiana iris
  • Japanese water iris

5. Orange Iris Flower Meaning

Orange Iris

Oranges irises symbolize bravery and wellness. They are a great décor choice for your home and a great gift for someone who needs encouragement. In your home, irises will help attract positive energy and build your self-esteem. If you have a family member or friend recovering from an illness, orange irises will help give them hope and have a positive mindset in the future.

There are two types of orange irises, including the Leopard flower and the Maid of the orange iris. The latter is native to China, but you can find the seeds on trusted flower seed selling websites.

6. Pink Iris Flower Meaning

Pink Iris

Pink irises represent renewal in almost every aspect of life. It can be renewal in faith, love, courage, and more. They are a great gift for someone who has gotten through heartbreak to symbolize to encourage their belief in love again. Types of pink irises include;

  • Pink Douglas iris
  • Stinking iris
  • Pink Siberian iris
  • Pink bearded iris

7. Yellow Iris Flower Meaning

Yellow Iris

Yellow irises are associated with renewal and regeneration because some are used in water purification. They symbolize optimism, purity, friendship, love, commitment, and passion. They are a great gift during graduations, job promotions, and for people who need positive reinforcement. 

Types of yellow irises include:

  • Yellow flag iris
  • Yellow Douglas iris
  • Yellow Dutch iris

8. Black Iris Flower Meaning

Black irises mean mystery, wisdom, elegance, independence, and rebellion. They are a great choice if you want to add a little contrast to your colorful home garden. Types of black irises include;

  • Black Asian iris
  • Black bearded iris
  • The black iris of Jordan
  • Black Siberian iris

9. Brown Iris Flower Meaning

Brown Iris

Brown is the color of soil where all living things come from. Therefore, the brown iris is associated with stability, foundation, security, and warm feelings. If you want to appreciate someone in your life who has been instrumental in your growth as a person, like a parent, teacher, or mentor, brown irises are ideal. Types of brown irises include;

  • Chocolate bearded iris
  • Siva siva bearded iris
  • Spice custard tall bearded iris
  • Gilead iris
  • Lion King Dutch iris

Here is a table summarizing the meanings of iris flowers by color.

WhitePurity, faith, hope, innocence
BlueLoyalty, faith, hope trust
PurpleRoyalty, respect, honor, goodwill, understanding, forgiveness
RedSecurity, love, passion, romance
OrangeBravery, wellness
YellowRenewal, regeneration, optimism, love, purity, commitment, passion
BlackMystery, wisdom, rebellion, elegance, independence
BrownWarmth, stability, foundation

Final Thoughts on the Iris Flower Meaning

Iris Flower

Iris flower body contains a rich historical significance. This beautiful bloom traces the heritage of Greek mythology. In Greece, the name “Iris” is translated as “rainbow”, which is an iris definition. There is also another Greek word, “eiris”, which means “messenger”, which raises another iris flower meaning and vocabulary.

Most people think that the rainbow’s iris definition refers to a variety of colors, but the roots of meaning trace back to Greek mythology. There is a Greek goddess called the iris for the triad of gods and passing messages. She will move along the rainbow between heaven and earth, which explains the iris definition of rainbow.

Another iris flower means eloquence, which relates to the message of the Greek goddess. By carefully selected words, iris information embodies eloquence and communication, thus defining the same idea.

The goddess iris also accompanies the deceased from Earth to the heavens, guiding them to their destination. The iris of the Society and the entrenched Greek culture of the afterlife, the individual will plant iris loved ones grave as the goddess iris, called her to escort their loved ones in the afterlife.

Yellow iris and a zen teapot.

In Japanese culture, iris flower is respected purification performance. In Japan, a common iris definition includes purifying evil thoughts and protecting those wearing it’s energy. Iris Flower is a common symbol found in kimono fabrics, as well as paintings and short-term Japanese poetry styles known as haiku.

In Chinese art, the iris definition usually supports the “dance spirit of the early summer.” The petals of the iris are easy to move in the wind, imitating the fluttering of the butterfly wings. Thus an iris is defined in Chinese culture as “purple butterfly.”

Iris flower on the river with a bridge background

The Meaning of the Victorian Flower Language to the. They can represent faith, hope, courage, wisdom and admiration. The specific flower color with further meaning beautiful flowers. Purple iris brings wisdom and praise, when a bunch of blue irises say hope and faith.

When passion is defined by the iris you want to convey, send yellow flowers. Bridal bouquets, white iris flowers are ideal, because these flowers symbolize purity. The iris flower color also makes sense for the precious friendship and commitment of love relationships.

The definition of iris does not include any religious expression, although this plant is usually included in the traditional garden to commemorate the Virgin Mary. Containing the leaves from the plant, it was imitated to say that sadness stung Mary’s heart as she watched her son Jesus suffer and die.

This lovely flower symbolizes France and Florence, Italy, as well as the world-famous symbol of inspiration Iris. The bearded iris (iris) is the state flower of Tennessee.

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