northern blue flag

(Iris versicolor)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

northern blue flag

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

Nativity

Native

Occurrence

Common

Habitat

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

Flowering

June to July

     
Flower Color

Violet blue

     
Height

24 to 36

     

Identification

This 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.

 
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.


Distribution Distribution Map   Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28.

Comments

 


Taxonomy

Family:

Iridaceae (iris)

 

Subfamily:

Iridoideae

 

Tribe:

Irideae

 

Genus:

Iris

 

Subgenus:

Limniris

 

Section:

Limniris

 
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)  

 

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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!

 
     

 

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