The Wild Gladiolus (Gladiolus italicus)
The Wild Gladiolus (Gladiolus italicus) is also known as Field Gladiolus, Italian Gladiolus, Cornfield Gladiolus and Common Sword Lily. The plant is native to Southern Europe and the Western Mediterranean, growing in open grass land and corn fields.
Gladiolus italicus has large, deep pink flowers with white stripes on the lower petals. The flower is very similar to Gladiolus communis ssp. communis, yet the seeds of Gladiolus italicus are larger and not winged, whereas those of Gladiolus communis ssp. communis are smaller and winged. This perennial plant from the Iris family grows from an underground bulb and flowers in May and June, here in Mallorca.
The Gladiolus italicus has 3 sepals (outer whorl) and 3 petals (inner whorl) which are identical, and thus, they are collectively referred to as 6 tepals or perianth segments.
No information was found about medicinal properties or toxic attributes of the plant.
According to Theophrastus (371 BC – 287 BC) and his Historia Plantarum:
The root of the plant called corn-flag is sweet, and, if cooked and pounded up and mixed with the flour, makes the bread sweet and wholesome. It is round and without ‘bark,’ and has small offsets like the long onion. Many of them are found in moles’ runs; for this animal likes them and collects them.
According to Pliny (Plinius Secundus, 23 – 79) and his Natural History:
Gladiolus, i. e. little sword. Some include among the class of bulbs Gladiobic the root of the cypiros, that is, of the gladiolus. It makes a pleasant food, one which, when boiled, also renders bread more palatable, and also when kneaded with, more weighty. Not unlike it is the plant which is called Thesium, and is acrid to the taste.