Iridaceae: Iris Family Characteristics, Types And Economic Importance

Iridaceae Iris Family Characteristics, Types And Economic Importance

The Iridaceae angiospermic plants family is a diverse group of flowering plants that includes many popular ornamental species. General vegetative and floral characters of the Iridaceae angiospermic plants family are include:

General characters of Family Iridaceae:

1. Leaves:
The leaves are generally basal, arising from the roots/base of the plant, and may be sword-shaped or linear. The leaves mostly show parallel venation.

2. Inflorescence:
The flowers are mostly arranged/organized in complex inflorescences, such as racemes and spikes. The inflorescence may be subtended/divided by bracts.

3. Flowers:
The flowers are generally bisexual (both male and female sex characters present on the same flower) and zygomorphic (bilaterally symmetrical). They usually have six petal-like tepals (undifferentiated petals and sepals), organized in two whorls of three.

4. Perianth Tube:
Many species in the Iridaceae angiospermic plants family have a tubular structure produced by the fusion of the bases of the tepals, termed as a perianth tube.

5. Androecium (male reproductive organs):
The stamens are often three in number and are generally fused to the perianth tube.

6. Gynoecium (female reproductive organs):
The ovary is typically superior in it, and the style is often trifid or branched.

7. Fruit:
The fruit is mostly a capsule, and seeds are produced in excessive quantities.

8. Geophytes:
Many species of the Iridaceae angiospermic plants family are geophytes, meaning they have underground storage abilities organs like corms, bulbs, or rhizomes. This functionalities helps them survive adverse circumstances and facilitates vegetative reproduction.

Notable genera’s within the Iridaceae angiospermic plants family are include Iris (irises), Crocus (crocuses), and Gladiolus (gladioli). These plants are often valued for their beautiful, colorful and attractive flowers, making them popular choices in gardens, parks and floral arrangements.

Floral formula of family Iridaceae:

Floral formula of family Iridaceae

Floral diagram of the family Iridaceae:

Floral diagram of the family Iridaceae

Economic Importance of Family Iridaceae:

The Iridaceae angiospermic plants family, commonly known as the iris plants family, comprises a huge group of flowering plants with various species that hold vital economic importance. Here are some important points highlighting their economic significance:

1. Ornamental Plants:
Many members within the Iridaceae angiospermic plants family are cultivated by farmers for their ornamental purposes. Irises, is particular, are cultivated in popular garden plants known for their vibrant and beautiful flowers. Varieties like the bearded iris botanically known as (Iris germanica) and Dutch iris (Iris hollandica) are extensively cultivated for their attractive blooms, contributing too much value to the ornamental horticulture industry.

2. Cut Flower Industry:
Some members of the iris family, such as Iris germanica and Iris hollandica, are cultivated by farmers for the cut flower industry. The distinctive and showy flowers make irises a sought-after choice for floral organization, adding aesthetic value to bouquets and floral displays.

3. Perfume Industry:
Some irises, specifically those belonging to the genus Iris, are cultivated for their rhizomes, which contain aromatic compounds ( that are used in perfumes for their beautiful smell). Iris rhizomes are a better source of orris root, a material utilize in the perfume industry to impart a sweet and violet-like fragrance. Orris root is a profitable ingredient in perfumery and contributes to the production of high-valued fragrances.

4. Medicinal Uses:
Certain members of this family within the Iridaceae angiospermic plants family have been traditionally used for their medicinal characters. For instance, Crocus sativus, generally known as saffron crocus, produces saffron, which is the taken from stigma of the flower. Saffron is a vital spice with culinary and medicinal uses, known for its distinctive color and flavour.

5. Culinary Use:
Saffron, derived from the flower Crocus sativus, is a highly expensive spice used in cooking. It has a rich golden color and a unique flavor to a variety of dishes, making it a vital ingredient in culinary arts. Due to its labor-intensive harvesting mechanism (every flower produces only a few threads of saffron), saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the globe.

Pattern of distribution of Family Iridaceae:

The Iridaceae angiospermic plants family, commonly known as the iris family, shows a widespread but uneven pattern of distribution across the world. With over 2K species belonging to around 80 genera, irids are exits on every continent of the globe except Antarctica. They remain in a variety of habitats, from temperate regions to tropical zones, with a preference for well-drained soils. Notably, the family is particularly diverse in South Africa, where many members of the genus Moraea and other irids contribute to the renowned Cape Floristic Region’s floral richness. Various genera, like Iris, are hugely distributed/found in the Northern Hemisphere, while others, such as Gladiolus, are prevalent in Africa and Eurasia. This family showcases adaptability to diverse climatic zones, with species ranging from alpine meadows to arid deserts. The showy flowers and horticultural significance of many irids members, including various Iris and Crocus species, contribute to their cultivation in gardens around the globe.

Common Species of Family Iridaceae:

  • Sisyrinchium spp.; commonly known as Blue-eyed Grass.
  • Dietes spp.; commonly known as African Iris.
  • Freesia spp.; commonly known as Freesia refracta: cultivated for its delightful scent.
  • Iris germanica; commonly known as Bearded Iris.
  • Iris versicolor; commonly known as Blue Flag Iris.

Read more angiosperms families:

  1. Annonaceae: Characters, Economic, Distribution and Types
  2. Piperaceae: Characters, Economic, Distribution and Types
  3. Arecaceae: The palm family Characters, Distribution and Types
  4. Cyperaceae: Sedge Family Characters, Distribution and Types


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