Gladiolus (from Latin, the diminutive of gladius, a sword) is a genus of perennial cormous flowering plants in the iris family. It is sometimes called the ‘sword lily.’ The genus occurs in Asia, Mediterranean Europe, South Africa, and tropical Africa. The genus contains about 260 species, of which 250 are native to sub-Saharan Africa, mostly South Africa, and about 10 species are native to Eurasia. The flowers of unmodified wild species vary from very small to perhaps 40 mm across, and inflorescences bearing anything from one to several flowers. The spectacular giant flower spikes in commerce are the products of centuries of hybridisation, selection, and perhaps more drastic manipulation. These flowers are variously coloured, pink to reddish or light purple with white, contrasting markings, or white to cream or orange to red. They are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the Large Yellow Underwing moth. The Gladioli is also the official flower of Elmira Ontario in Canada. Credit: Wikipedia.