northern blue flag

(Iris versicolor)

Conservation Status
northern blue flag
 
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N4N5 - Apparently Secure to Secure

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
Wetland Indicator Status
     
  Great Plains

OBL - Obligate wetland

     
  Midwest

OBL - Obligate wetland

     
  Northcentral & Northeast

OBL - Obligate wetland

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Northern blue flag is a 24 to 36 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on a single stem from a thick, creeping, freely-branching rhizome and fleshy roots. It often forms large clumps.

The stems are erect, stout, nearly straight, and usually have 1 or 2 branches. The top of the stem is equal to or higher than the leaves.

Basal leaves are narrowly sword-shaped, green to grayish-green, 4 to 32 long, and to 13 16 wide. They are erect and commonly arching near the top. There are 1 or 2 leaves on the stem subtending each branch. Stem leaves are similar to the basal leaves but shorter.

The inflorescence is a cluster of 2 to 4 flowers at the end of each stem and branch. The cluster emerges from an enveloping pair of large bracts (spathes).

The flowers are 2½ to 3½ wide. There are 3 petals and 3 petal-like sepals, all of which are fused at the base into a to ½ long tube. Each sepal is egg-shaped to kidney-shaped, widely spreading, 1½ to 2¾ long, and ¾ to 1½ wide. It is abruptly or gradually narrowed toward the base (clawed) and broadly expanded toward the tip. It is violet blue near the tip and white with heavy purple veins from the middle to the base. There is a greenish-yellow patch near the throat. What appears to be an upper lip is actually a branch of the style. The highly modified style is enlarged and divided into 3 branches. Each petal-like style branch covers the lower portion of a one sepal, extending just beyond the narrowed claw and concealing the stamens. The style branch is 13 16 to 1 long, distinctly ridged, and flared at the tip. It does not have ear-like lobes at the base. The 3 petals are much smaller than the sepals. They are lance-shaped, erect, ¾ to 2 long, and 3 16 to ¾ wide. They are rarely notched at the tip. The flowers last 1 to 4 days and are somewhat fragrant. All white flowers are found, though rarely.

The fruit is a green, oblong, three-sided, 1½ to 2 long, ½ to ¾ in diameter capsule. It is rounded-triangular in cross section.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

24 to 36

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

Violet blue

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
  Southern blue flag (Iris virginica var. shrevei) stem leaves often exceed the inflorescence. The sepals and petals are lighter in color, lavender to violet. The patch at the base of the sepals is bright yellow, not yellowish-green. The 3 petals are often notched at the tip.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Wet. Meadows, swamps, marshes, streambanks. In water less than 40 deep. Full to partial sun.

 
     
 
Ecology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

June to July

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28.

 
  7/9/2019      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Liliopsida (monocots)  
 

Order

Asparagales (agaves, orchids, irises, and allies)  
 

Family

Iridaceae (irises and allies)  
  Subfamily Iridoideae  
  Tribe Irideae  
 

Genus

Iris (iris)  
  Subgenus Limniris  
  Section Limniris  
  Series Laevigatae  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Iris versicolor var. versicolor

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

blue flag iris

harlequin blueflag

northern blue flag

northern iris

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Bract

Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk or flower cluster.

 

Claw

A stalk-like narrowed base of some petals and sepals.

 

Linear

Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.

 

Rhizome

A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.

 

Sepal

An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

 

Spathe

One or two large bracts that subtend, hood, or sometimes envelope a flower or flower cluster, as with a Jack-in-the-Pulpit.

       
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Habitat

  northern blue flag    
       

Plant

  northern blue flag    
       

Inflorescence

  northern blue flag   northern blue flag
       

Flower

  northern blue flag   northern blue flag
       

Infructescence

  northern blue flag    
       
       

 

Camera

     
Slideshows
   
  Iris versicolor
Zi W
 
  Iris versicolor  
     
  Blue Flag (Iris versicolor)
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
  Blue Flag (Iris versicolor)  
     
  Harlequin Blueflag (Iris versicolor)
Bill Keim
 
  Harlequin Blueflag (Iris versicolor)  

 

slideshow

       
Visitor Videos
       

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Other Videos
 
  Blue Flags in the Bluebelt
rjproducer37
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jun 4, 2008

Iris, the Latin for Iris versicolor, from the Latin, "with various colors". Blue Flag, from its flower color and the old word for Iris.

Other common names include:
American Blue Flag, Dagger Flower, Dragon Flower, Flag Lily, Harlequin Blueflag, Liver Lily, fleur-de-lis, flower-de-luce.

The bluebelt is man-made and abounds with local native plantings and each rock is laid in by hand.

   
       
  Minnesota Native Plant - Northern Blue Flag (Iris Versicolor)
MNNativePlants
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 13, 2014

Rich shows off the Northern Blue Flag (Iris Versicolor) around the pond. A great plant for a Minnesota native wetland or water garden!

   
       

 

Camcorder


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