Oh ffs – Jezebel root PSA/rant + crash course in rhizomes

Iris fulva, one of the species whose rhizome is called Jezebel root. Public domain. [1]

This post represents stages of my research today to figure out where the hell something crazy came from. Watch the crazy unfold.

You keep using that word…

Jezebel root is not this…whatever this crap is. Pro tip – the stuff in that picture isn’t a root at all.


Jezebel root is not “reportedly related to the Iris flower.” It IS the root of an iris flower. But the stuff in that picture? Is not the root of an iris flower. Matter of fact, it looks like that same crap in the first picture. I’m beginning to think an entire segment of the “occult world” has been using tree bark for Jezebel root for a whole generation now.

Pro tip: don’t buy herbs from places where nobody knows what a root looks like.

Least they got the genus right:

But Jezebel root is not orris root.


The plot thickens:

Abies means this comes from a fir tree. This makes so little freakin’ sense it just blows my mind.

Let’s consider this Curse of Jezebel, in which one is supposed to hold the root – not a piece of the root, the root – in one’s hand for an extended period of time. The root of a big old honkin’ fir tree. Come on, now. Pro tip: don’t buy herbs from people who obviously don’t research and perform the spells they’re writing about.

But yeah – there’s a whole segment of the population who apparently accepts that some part of a fir tree that doesn’t look like a root is legit a “version” of Jezebel root. Never mind that I have never, ever heard of any tradition associating the fir with cursing or with attracting a man who’ll spend money on you or any of things that Jezebel root is used for. Have any of y’all?

Where are people’s brains?

Oh, now this is some convoluted stupid.

Ah, the plot thickens some more. According to these folks, it’s not just any of a number of possible abies – it’s Pinus abies, aka Norway spruce, and it’s “commonly used” when real Jezebel root is “out of season.”

Okay, just stop. The audience here is people who buy dried herbs from online suppliers, presumably because they can’t get them locally in season or at all. Drying an herb removes considerations of season from the freakin’ table, ffs. Also, that passive construction “is commonly used” is weaselly as hell. Commonly used by whom, exactly? (Answer: by people who don’t use their brains.) Most herbs are freakin’ seasonal, ffs. That’s why we freakin’ dry them.

And anyway, this rationale makes absolutely no sense. We’re talking about roots – or actually, we’re talking about rhizomes, and that’s important. We call it a root, but it’s really not. A rhizome is an underground stem that can produce the root and stem of a new plant and that stores nutrients to help the plant survive in case the growing conditions are unfavorable one year. That’s right, one year – only perennials have rhizomes (plants that live for at least two years). And irises can live for up to about 20 years if they’re well taken care of. That means you can dig up the root any old time.

This is what you’re looking for – you should see little ridged scaly-looking segments on an unpeeled rhizome (right), and whether peeled or unpeeled, you will probably be able to see little stringy looking roots, or at least holes where those roots used to be (left).

And mind you, these folks claim true Jezebel root is one of the Louisiana irises, which is kinda half true (but not every Louisiana iris species is Jezebel root, and Jezebel root is not only Louisiana iris species).

Well, in places like Louisiana, it doesn’t always get cold enough for the plant to even die back completely for winter.

So somebody please explain to me in exactly what way, in exactly what sense, Jezebel root can be said to be “out of season” and therefore “commonly” need substitution?

This is some absolutely bugshit crazy rationalization.

Y’all – use your brains. And don’t buy herbs from idiots.

(OMG, I’m gonna have to do one of these on corms and Adam and Eve root I think, too…)

Part of A Bayou Hoodoo Herbal.

[1] Annales de Flore et de Pomone ou Journal des jardins et des champs, October 1834. Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Sciences et techniques, S-16469.