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U.S. Forest Service


Our Native Irises: Blue Flag Irises

Iris verna var. verna: Coastal Plain Dwarf Violet Iris

The coastal plain dwarf violet iris occurs in the coastal plain and piedmont of the southeastern states; Maryland south to Florida.

Iris verna var. verna. The coastal plain variety of Iris verna var. verna occurs in the piedmont and coastal plain and is physiographically separated from Iris verna var. smalliana which only occurs in the uplands of mountains. Photo by Dr. Jean Everett, College of Charleston.

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

Iris verna var. verna is ligth to deep blue to violet or rarely a white spring wildflower with a golden yellow signal on the spreading sepals. The petals are ascending. The one- to two-flowered inflorescence appears before the leaves emerge from the ground. The narrow, 3 to 8 mm, stiff, dark green leaves arise from shallowly rooted creeping rhizomes, 5 to 15 cm between offshoots forming loose colonies.

Iris verna var. verna is commonly found growing in nutrient poor acid soils, in semi-shaded mesic to dry woodlands.

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Iris verna var. smalliana: Upland Dwarf Violet Iris

The upland dwarf violet iris occurs in the eastern states from New York south to Georgia, west to east central Mississippi, with disjunct populations in the Ouachita mountains of Arkansas and Ozarks of Missouri.

Iris verna var. smalliana. Iris verna var. smalliana is easily distinguished from Iris verna var. verna. Iris verna var. smalliana plants grow in dense clumps while Iris verna var. verna plants occur significantly further apart in loose colonies. Photo by Thomas G. Barnes, University of Kentucky.

Map of the range of verna var. smalliana in North America. Range map of Iris verna var. smalliana. Courtesy of the USDA PLANTS Database.

Iris verna var. smalliana is deep blue to violet or rarely a white spring wildflower with a golden yellow signal on the spreading sepals. The petals are ascending. The one- to two-flowered inflorescence appears before the leaves emerge from the ground. The narrow 5 to 13 mm wide, stiff dark green leaves arise from shallowly rooted creeping rhizomes, 1 to 3 cm between offshoots forming dense clumps.

Iris verna var. smalliana is commonly found growing in nutrient poor acid soils, in semi-shaded mesic to dry woodland slopes.

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