The variety in wild iris

Iris versicolor


There is only one native wild iris in northern Minnesota and that is the northern blue flag (Iris versicolor). This iris prefers wet habitats such as sedge meadows, swamps, river banks, shores, and ephemeral ponds. On my land there must be several hundred plants and almost all of them have been in full bloom for the last three weeks. In some places the view is spectacular.

Northern blue flag spreads by seeds and rhizomes (cloning). I have been looking at the wild iris here for many years and have noted that each clone differs a little from its neighboring clones. Some produce flowers with very straight petals, others are more rounded. There are clones with flowers in shades of blue ranging from gray-blue to almost purple. A few have so little blue color that they are almost white. The greenish-yellow spot on the fall petal can vary, too, in its size and in degree of yellowness. This year I have made a special effort to look at the wild iris more closely in order to find more variations.

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