GLADIOLUS is any of several species of showy flowering herbs of the iris family (Iridaceae). It has broad flat leaves that resemble the blades of swords. The long, straight stalk and lily-like blossoms make the gladiolus one of the most handsome flowers grown for garden and house decoration. Native to South Africa, Asia, and Europe, the species of wild gladiolus have been hybridized and selected by plant breeders in Europe and the United States so that hundreds of different varieties are now known. Most of these cultivated gladioli reach heights of from three to four feet. Their blossoms grow usually in a double row on one side of the stalk. They appear in white and shades of yellow, lavender, smoky gray, maroon, red purple, and in a range of red, rose, and pink hues.