Dietes is a genus of 6 species of rhizomatous plants in the family Iridaceae, native to southern and central Africa, with the exception of one species, the Dietes robinsoniana, which is endemic to Lord Howe Island off the coast of Australia. Dietes produces narrow, sword-like foliage and large iris-like flowers on tall wiry stems. It is a versatile plant that can be used for borders, water gardens and mass plantings.
The genus name comes from the Greek words "di", meaning "two", and "etes", which means "an associate". It literally means "having two relatives" and refers to the relationship between this genus and Moraea and Iris.
Dietes means good fortune.
Interesting facts about Dietes:
The genus is closely related to the African genus Moraea and to the widespread Northern Hemisphere genus Iris.
Dietes grandiflora is also known as "Fairy Iris" because the fragile white petals, which resemble fairy wings, have a tendency to magically disappear very quickly!
It is a popular landscaping plant due to its reliability and tolerance to cold. This is a hardy, long lived species excellent for mass-planting or as a foliage contrast plant.
Dietes iridioides is commonly known as "Fortnight Lily" because of its two-week blooming cycle. It produces many flowers from spring to late summer, with a fortnight (two weeks) of rest between the next flowering. The flowers are similar to those of Dietes grandiflora, but smaller.
Dietes is used in traditional medicine to treat cold, flu, headache, toothache, malaria, bruise and various infections.