Iris – Goddess of the Rainbow
The name Iris is derived from the Greek word “eiro” which means “to connect”. In Greek mythology, the iris flower was said to be able to draw the water out of the ground in order to feed the clouds. In doing so it created the rainbow, which connects the sky and the earth. Indeed, this plant is a true master of moisture balance and supply. In the wave-like structure of its root surface, we can see the reflection of the water’s rhythmic movements, giving a clear indication of their special relationship with the element of water. With its light and airy flowers shimmering in the colours of the rainbow, the iris shows its relationship with air and the etheric. Its task, it seems, is to join the wet with the dry, creating a balance between them.
Great Gifts of the Iris in its Roots
The iris flower (Latin name: Iris germanica L.) belongs to the Iridaceae family of flowering plants and is native to the Mediterranean region. Growing up to one metre tall, this perennial plant is connected with the earth by its extremely stable, wide-spreading network of thick creeping roots, also called rootstocks or rhizomes. Flourishing equally well in swampy areas and in dry high mountain regions, the iris clearly owes this striking ability to its rootstock, which has an impressive ability to store water so that it can survive long periods of drought without drying out. Above ground, the rhizome absorbs moisture from the air as well as light and energy from the sun. Underground, it draws moisture from the soil through its fine tangle of roots, thereby connecting the two polar forces of the sky and the earth. This produces highly effective substances and qualities at different levels within the plant, which is what makes it so valuable for Weleda.
How is sustainable sourcing possible when the root is taken from the plant?
This is an important question for Weleda. In order to solve this problem, Weleda established an agricultural partnership for the acquisition of iris roots in Italy in the 1990s. Here in the Apennine Mountains at an altitude of 800 metres, Simon van Hilten cultivates marvellous irises surrounded by fields of herbs and other flowers on his Demeter-certified farm, Azienda Agricola Cà dei Fiori. Everything here is grown according to biodynamic and certified organic methods, as dictated by Hilten’s values and his deep sense of connection with the earth. Fragrances and blossoms abound, and in May, when the iris presents its delicate flowers in celestial lilac tones, it’s almost like being up in the sky.
Every year in August, the iris rhizomes are ready to be carefully dug out and separated by hand. One part is immediately replanted, so that enough healthy new plants can continue to grow for the next year.
A larger part of the rhizome is gently freed of soil and stones and then washed. Once its outer skin has been peeled off, the rootstock is cut into slices and then carefully dried in specially drying chambers. The resulting high-quality raw material is then sent to Weleda for further processing.
Between Yesterday and Tomorrow – How Iris Balances Young Skin
Weleda produces an alcoholic-aqueous extract, a so-called mother tincture, from the crushed rootstock, which is then used in various natural and organic cosmetics.
The iris mother tincture is a golden yellow liquid which helps the skin to regulate and balance its natural moisture content. This important and beautiful feature can be of particular help to young people during their transition from childhood to adulthood, from yesterday to today. Our life story is full of changes around the age of 20 – when young adults start standing on their own feet, gain new experiences and test life with all its facets. These times of change are often reflected in the skin, causing it to become delicate and dry, blemished and prone to inflammation. Here’s where the balancing properties of the iris serve as a guide for the skin to restore its own equilibrium.
Iris root extract is combined with other nourishing components for Weleda’s Iris skincare range, which healthily regulates the skin so it can regain its naturally beautiful radiance.
That the natural paradise where the iris grows can be cherished and maintained is a positive side effect that enables Weleda to return to nature and the environment some of what it has so richly received.
Iris Root Extract
The rootstock of Iris consists at a large part of starch and contains mucilaginous substances, tannins as well as essential oil, which is responsible for the violet-type odour of the dried Iris rhizome. Extracts of Iris rootstock regulate the moisture level of the skin.