Our Native Irises: Blue Flag Irises

Iris setosa: Wild Flag Iris

The wild flag iris occurs from northwest British Columbia to Alaska.

Iris missouriensis showing a dark violet color.
A field of Iris setosa growing on Grizzly Bar, Taku River, Tongass National Forest. Photo by Mary Stensvold.

Map of the range of Iris setosa in North America.
Range map of Iris setosa. Courtesy of the USDA PLANTS Database.

Iris setosa has a deep violet blue flower. The sepals are deeply-veined dark purple with a yellow-white signal. The petals are very reduced in size, not exceeding the base of the sepals. Beachhead iris flowers in late spring, on a one flowered inflorescence. The leaves are stiff, narrow and green, with a purplish tinged base. The leaves are up to 12 inches high. The leaves arise from shallowly rooted, large, branching rhizomes forming clumps.

Iris setosa grows in moist ground on rocky shores, beachheads and headlands on the coastal plain.

Iris setosa at Iris Meadows on Kruzof Island near Sitka, Alaska.
Iris setosa at Iris Meadows on Kruzof Island near Sitka, Alaska, Tongass National Forest, Alaska Region. Photo by Jim Case, Sitka Ranger District.

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