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Wetland Evaluation and Delineation Program

Featured Plants - Florida's Iris Species
 

General Information and Key to Florida's Iris Species

The following is a key to the Iris in Florida's wetlands.

Florida has five native species of Iris; I. brevicaulis, I. hexagona, I. tridentata, I. virginica, and I. verna. You can expect to find all of these in wetlands except Iris verna which is an upland species found in dry, longleaf pine forests. In addition there are two naturalized species, I. pseudoacorus a yellow flowering species from Europe and Iris fulva, a reddish flowering species from gulf coastal states, west of Florida. Both of these species were introduced through the horticultural trade.

The following is a key to the Iris in Florida's wetlands.

1a     Flowers yellow
          Plant with long leaves, generally up to 80 cm long 
             ..... Iris pseudoacorus

1b     Flowers other than yellow
          Flowers blue or purple
             Flowering stems strongly zigzag in appearance
                Plants erect ..... Iris hexagona
                Plants lax ..... Iris brevicaulis
             Flowering stems not conspicuously zigzag in appearance
                Foliar bracts subtending or equalling the length
                   of the inflorescence ..... Iris virginica
                Foliar bracts not subtending or equalling the
                   length of the inflorescence ..... Iris tridentata
          Flowers reddish to bronze ..... Iris fulva

All of Florida's wetland Iris species are included as OBLIGATE wetland plants in subsection 62-340.450 (1) F.S., except Iris verna which is an UPLAND species.  

Text by John David Tobe, Ph.D

Description Images
Iris pseudoacorus is a large species with vigorous rhizomes and large leaves. It is the only yellow flowering species of Iris one might encounter in Florida. This species has been naturalized throughout north Florida in ditches, shorelines, stormwater retention ponds, and along streams.
 

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Iris pseudoacorus
Iris hexagona has the largest distribution from Collier County north to Holmes County in northwest Florida to Nassau County in northeast Florida. This is a species of swamp margins, drainage ditches, canals, pond and lake margins, and wet prairies. Look for the purple flowers in February through March in south Florida and late March through April in the north Florida.
 

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N/A

Iris brevicaulis is a rare species in north Florida, reaching the state along river floodplains in Jackson County. This is a lax plant that produces partially hidden blue or purple flowers in April through May.
 

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N/A

Iris virginica is distributed throughout north Florida and extends south into Polk County. Found in marshes, pond and lake margins, swamps, sloughs, hydric hammocks, ditches and canals, wet areas in pine savannas and flatwoods. This is the tallest of the native iris with stems to 100 cm long. The pale blue or purple flowers are produced in March through April.
 

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Iris virginica
Iris tridentata is a smaller species generally with one flowering scape, this species produces several violet flowers in April through May. This is a northern species that reaches its southernmost distribution in the wet savannas of north Florida.
 

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Iris tridentata
Iris verna is the smallest of the native species, mature leaves are lax, about 6 to 12 inches long. The flowers are also small and delicate with flowering stems up to 6 inches. This species might be found flowering in March through early April in the dry pine forests of Santa Rosa County, where it is locally common.
 

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Iris verna
Iris fulva, horticulturally, is a smaller species with reddish flowers. This plant has been selected for a variety of flower color forms, reddish being the most commonly encountered variety in north Florida. Naturalized around ponds and lakes.
 

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Iris fulva

Last updated: September 21, 2011

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