Blue-flag Iris


Blue-flag Iris (Iris versicolor)

Description

Blueflag Iris are easily distinguished by their bright blue-purple flowers. These flowers consist of three vibrant sepals with yellow or white center stripes. In the center of these downward curving sepals, there are three smaller upright petals. Each plant may contain several flowers of approximately 10cm. The plant itself may grow between 60cm-90cm and has long, lance shaped leaves. Blueflag Iris’ are hardy, easy-to-grow perennials.
The Blueflag Iris grows well in wet areas such as swampy meadows or riparian areas. It makes a dense mat of foliage and it is really one of our most beautiful native wildflowers.

Growing Conditions

The Blueflag Iris grows well in wet areas along riparian zones, and thrive in sunny or partially shaded areas. It is very tolerant to pH levels, prefers organic rich soil, loamy soil, or peat soil and can grow anywhere with a substantial winter freeze. A unique feature of this plant is that they can survive being submerged in water for a period of time.

Propagation

Wait until flowers have fallen and they will be replaced with a three-angled oblong capsule. Each capsule will contain numerous tightly packed seeds. To maintain seed viability make sure they do not dry out. They are best stored in a container with moist sand. Flowers will grow best in a pond or stream side area. The seeds will remain dormant until they experience the vigorous freeze-thaw patterns of fall and winter. For this reason, it is best to plant in early to late fall and allow dormancy to be broken naturally over the winter.

Wildlife Uses

The Blueflag Iris a valuable natural wetland species. This is especially due to the species’ affinity for areas that are typically lacking in pollen-bearing plants, making the iris one of the main resources for pollinators in these areas. They provide an essential food source for pollinators such as hummingbirds and bees.

Areas of Usage

Aside from its use as a pollinator food source, Blueflag Iris is typically used as an aesthetic flower to fill wet patches in gardens and adorn backyard ponds. Although parts of the plant are highly toxic, Indigenous Peoples used the dried rhizome of the Blueflag Iris as a medicinal to treat constipation, vomiting, liver problems and other ailments. It is also currently being used as a component of some perfumes. It should be noted however that if not properly dried, the plant can be very toxic.


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A big thank you to Jenna Marie Cahill for contributing this nature guide.

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