Blackberry lily

Description
The blackberry lily (Iris domestica) is thought to have originated in China where it has long been used medicinally. Slices of the rhizome are commonly used for clearing phlegm from the throat, as well as for genitourinary disorders and troubles in the digestive system. In the Malabar region of India it is known as an antidote to the bite of the cobra.

The English name, blackberry lily, refers to the seeds which are black and shiny, developing in a clump outside the capsule.


In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the East India Company controlled much of the Indian subcontinent. Keen to exploit and export valuable natural commodities, the Company set out to record the flora of India and commissioned Indian artists to create detailed botanical illustrations. Many of the plants were known through their use in Ayurvedic medicine. One of the world’s oldest medicinal systems, it has been practised in India for 3,000 years.

Company School style paintings became popular with wealthy Europeans. It was not uncommon for East India Company officials (who were not employed as medics or botanists) to build their own personal collections of paintings depicting Indian flora and fauna. We cannot be sure how local amateur botanist Richard Cresswell came by this collection of 86 Company School works. It is possible Henry Creighton commissioned them during his time as a judge in Calcutta and that on his death the works came back to the UK with his daughter Frances who later married Richard Cresswell.
Accession Loan No.
19/1927/2/32
Collection Class
Drawings
Medium
watercolour on paper
Common Name
Blackberry lily
Simple Name
drawing
Full Name
Non Indian garden plant of Montbretia
Dimensions
total sheet H 555 mm; total sheet length 390 mm
Production Person Surname
anon
Period Classification
George III (1760-1811)
Production Year Low
1780
Production Year High
1810
Production Town
Calcutta
Production County
Bengal
Production Country
India
Production Area Region
South Asia
Production Continent
Asia
Family Group

Inscription / Transcription
HERB. MUS. EXON CRESSWELL COLLECTION 19/1927; non Indian garden plant cf Montbretia; No 32
Family
Iridaceae
Genus
Iris
Species
domestica

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