Rocky Mountain Iris
By Andrea Crandall
Rocky Mountain irises are beautiful. Simple as that. Also known as Western blue flag, the flowers bloom a bright purple or blue, adding splashes of color to alpine meadows. In late spring and early summer, they grow in profusion along streams and in grassy pastures.
But the delicate flowers are more than just a photo op. Several Indian tribes are said to have used parts of the Rocky Mountain iris to treat ailments, including toothaches and joint pain. Their roots, however, are poisonous.
Rocky Mountain irises are also known for their ability to produce useful cordage. Their strong and flexible fibers can be woven into rope, fishing nets and snares. And if you're ever in need of a coffee substitute, the roasted seeds of the flowers pack a caffeinated punch.