John from Dallas, Texas, was surprised to learn that a relative who said she was on her way to plant flags at a loved one’s gravesite meant she was going to plant flowers. In addition to meaning “cloth banner,” the word flag is another name for the flower known as an iris. The flag in this sense may come from an old Scandinavian word meaning “reed” or “rush.” There is a long tradition of planting irises at gravesites, and in fact, a variety of white iris is so commonly used, particularly in the American South, that it’s known as the cemetery iris.

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