Native to the Mediterranean, Iris germanica is a rhizomatous member of the iris family with showy, dark purple flowers and sword-like leaves. The genus Iris is aptly named after the Greek goddess of the rainbow for its beauty and range of vivid colors. Orris root has a pleasant scent that is reminiscent of violets and has a long history of use in perfumery. Typical preparations of the fragrant roots include herbal sachets and potpourris. Additionally, orris root can be tinctured or used to flavor syrups.
The iris is a group of plants known for their beautiful blooms and their adaptability to an astonishing variety of growing conditions, from the temperate reaches of Oregon to the marshes of Louisiana and even the desert American Southwest. In ancient times the iris was a symbol of power and majesty used as the original scepter.
The orris is a group of two species of European iris, cultivated in the region near Florence and sold as "ghiaggiuolo." The rhizomes, resembling ginger, are dug up in August, stripped of their rootlets and bark, and then dried until they have a chalky appearance.
Dried orris root smells like violets. It is used primarily as a fixative in perfumes to enhance other aromas.
Powdered orris root lends a pleasant scent to freshly laundered linens and to potpourri. It also can be used as a stabilizer in cosmetics.
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