Blue Flag Picture


" Blue Flag is the dried rhizome of Iris versi-color Linne, or of Iris caroliniana Watson (Fam. Iridacece). Blue Flag contains not more than 5 per cent, of its roots and leaf bases or other foreign organic matter." N. F.

Blue Flag, Larger Blue Flag; Amerikanische Schwertel,; Iris Varie, Fr.

Iris versicolor L., or blue flag, is found in all parts of the United States, flourishing in low wet places in meadows. The somewhat leafy stem is taller than the equitant basal leaves and often branched; the flowers are a violet blue variegated with green, yellow or white and purple-veined. They afford a blue infusion which has been used as a test for acids and alkalies. The fresh rhizome is almost odorless and has a nauseous, acrid taste; the acrimony and apparently also the medicinal activity is impaired by age. According to Andrews, however, if cut, when fresh, into slices, dried at the temperature of about 37.8� C., then powdered and kept in bottles excluded from the air, the root retains its virtues unimpaired for a considerable time. Commercial supplies of this drug have been recently obtained from Florida, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Michigan and North Carolina.

Description and Physical Properties. � " Unground Blue Flag.�Rhizome frequently branched, up to 20 cm. in length and 3 cm. in thickness at the nodes, usually cut into longitudinal pieces; outer surface grayish brown to purplish brown, somewhat annulate, the upper surface with markings of leaf bases, the lower with numerous root scars and root remnants; fracture short, the broken surface yellowish white, pink or pale to dark purplish brown and exhibiting a central stele with whitish fibro-vascular bundles distributed throughout, a distinct endodermis, and cortex. Odor slight, not distinctive; taste acrid, nauseous.

"Structure.� A more or less exfoliating epidermal layer of cells with brownish walls; a hypodermis of about two rows of cells with uniformly thickened, strongly lignifled walls, some of which contain a reddish-brown amorphous substance; a narrow cortex of characteristic structure with ovoid or spheroidal parenchyma cells with large intercellular spaces, some of the parenchyma containing starch, others a reddish-brown amorphous substance; an endodermis of a single layer of cells with walls lignifled and thickened on the inner and radial surfaces; a central cylinder made up of numerous nearly spherical parenchyma, between which are intercellular spaces not as large as those in the cortex; concentric vascular bundles occasional in the cortex, more numerous in the parenchyma of the central cylinder.

"Powdered Blue Flag.� Reddish-brown; numerous resin cells filled with a reddish-brown amorphous substance; starch grains few, or in some specimens abundant, simple or 2- to 4-com-pound, the simple grains being spherical or elliptical, up to 0.022 mm. in diameter; calcium oxalate in prisms up to 0.350 mm. in length; tracheae with spiral or reticulate markings or bordered pores; fibers few, lignified and with oblique pores." N. F.

The active principle of blue flag is unknown. The name iridin is applied to the oleoresin obtained by precipitating the tincture of the root with water. Irisin is a somewhat similar preparation in which the oleoresin is stiffened by the addition of the powdered root. For chemical examination of the resin see Power and Salway (A. J. P., 1911, Ixxxiii, p. 14).

Uses.� Blue flag root is a cathartic and emetic said to have been used by the Indians of the Southern United States. By some it is supposed to have a special effect upon the liver and is used as a cathartic in biliousness. The eclectic physicians attribute to it also alterative powers and employ it in various skin diseases, chronic rheumatism and similar complaints.

Dose, ten to thirty grains (0.6-2 Gm.).

Off. Prep.� Fluidextractum Iridis Versicoloris, N. F.; Elixir Corydalis Compositum, N. F.; Fluidextractum Stillingis Compositum, N. F.; Syrupus Stillingias Compositus, N. F.