Leopard Flower (or Blackberry Lily)
Leopard Flower (or Blackberry Lily)

Leopard Flower (or Blackberry Lily)

Regular price $3.50 Sale

Iris domestica

Origin: East Asia

Improvement status: Cultivated wild material 

Seeds per packet: ~30


Life cycle: Perennial

NEW FOR 2022. Leopard flower, or blackberry lily, is a member of the iris family which follows up strikingly beautiful spotted orange blossoms with balloon-like pale green seedpods, followed by clusters of seeds that really look uncannily like blackberries. It adds interest to the garden from spring to fall. It's native to China, Japan, and eastern Russia. Long considered to be the sole member of its own genus (Belamcanda), taxonomists moved it into the Iris genus in 2005. Some people apparently eat the leaves (probably only the young leaves), though this whole plant is somewhat toxic.

Plants for a Future lists many medicinal uses for this plant: "The leopard lily has a very long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine. It is a bitter cooling herb that acts mainly on the lungs and the liver, lowering fevers and reducing inflammation. It is effective against a number of bacterial, fungal and viral organisms and has also been used as an antidote to snakebites. The root contains several medically active constituents including flavonoids and isoflavonoids. It also contains the glucosides belamcandin, tectoridin, shekanin and iridin. It is analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, depurative, expectorant, febrifuge, pectoral, purgative, stomachic and tonic. It is used in the treatment of acute laryngitis, acute tonsillitis, oedema of the glottis and cough with profuse sputum. The juice of the root is used in Nepal to treat liver complaints, where it has the added benefit of improving the appetite. This juice is also used to abort a fetus during the first trimester of pregnancy. The root should not be prescribed for pregnant women. The root is harvested in the summer and autumn, and dried for later use."

GROWING TIPS: This perennial is quite easy to grow. Direct-seed in weed-free soil after danger of frost has passed, or start indoors a few weeks earlier. Transplants easily. Once mature, can be propagated by division quite easily too. Will self-seed if given half a chance. Handles shade and sun well.