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Environmental Studies

Iris versicolor (Blueflag) Iridaceae

 The Blue Flag Iris is a native North American plant often found in wet meadows and marshy areas. It is praised for its beautiful bright blue-violet petals and distinct shape. 

Physical characteristics

Leaf: The Iris versicolor has basal leaves which grow from the lowest part of the stem. These leaves are sword-shaped and about 1 cm wide.  The leaves grow from a thick, cylindric stem that stands straight all the way to the flower. 


Flower | Seeds: The flower is formed of three petals and three larger sepals. The sepals tilt towards the ground with yellowish blotches at the base; it is the most eye catching part of the flower. The stamens and pistols are hidden between the sepals and the styles (the top petal like structure above the sepals) making pollination selective to certain species. The plant has a bluntly angled inferior ovary bellow the flower. The fruit consists of a three celled capsule containing two rows of densely packed seeds within each cell. The seeds are large and brown with a flattened round shape.  

Life span: The flowers bloom during May to June. It is a perennial meaning it re-blooms year after year. 

Ecological characteristics

The Iris versicolor is native to North American and is found in several northern midwest and northeast U.S. states. It grows in wet meadows, marshy areas, and along river and lake shores. 

Relationship with other species

Non-human: The Blue Flag Iris’s mass roots protects shorelines of rivers and lakes. Many bugs such as bumblebees, skipper butterflies, moths, etc are attracted to the flower, though do not always transfer pollen. There is no documentation of any animal consumption. 

Humans: It is found to be mildly poisonous to humans. It can cause a mild skin irritation or when consumed it can lead to nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Its main use is its beautiful flower which is enjoyed for its aesthetic value. 















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