Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Snake's Head Iris

Finger of Hermes

A Mediterranean native of Yugoslavia and Greece and has been in cultivation since the late 1500s. Botanically, it is not a true iris at all. The tuberous root bears some resemblance to the fingers of the human hand. Its common name, Snake’s Head, is said to come from the unusual coloring and shape that resembles the head of a reptile, specifically, a snake, alluding to its pointed buds that supposedly look like snake heads with open mouths. This flower has sometimes been referred to as the “widow iris” for its somber color or “black iris” for its black falls. Hermaodactylus tuberose is a lovely looking, unusual and fragrant perennial bulb with yellow-green, iris-like blooms and velvety, nearly black falls in early spring, between February and April. Not a very tall plant, about a height of 12" to 18". Very striking if planted a rockeries, beds and borders, and containers. They can naturalize in grass and will also make exceptional cut flowers.
I have a small group I planted about 5 years ago in the back garden. They are located at the corner of the path on the way to the Death Valley Shack.

USDA hardiness zone 7 to zone 9

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