Types of flowers
Almost nothing says a sunny day in May like a blooming Iris.
Many botanical fans rank the iris family second only to the orchid family in terms of its diversity of showy, flowering plants.
While the numbers change from source to source, the Flora of North America lists 65 genera and 1810 species world wide. Most grow in temperate areas with Southern Africa home to a large and diverse group.
North America has 16 genera with 92 species, with over one half of the genera naturalized non-native plants. The native irises (genus iris) are probably the most easily recognized, however other species such Blue-eyed grass are native irises that grow throughout the United States. Bartram's Ixia, would be an example of a rare native iris, found only in Florida.
When gardeners think iris, they think spring and fall flowering plants such as the colorful Bearded Iris, Crocus and Gladiolus. They're not only popular garden flowers but also popular cut flowers and important economic ornamentals.
Considering the fact that along with the native species, many non-native species such as the Montbretia and Spraxis grow in the wild without any care, the characterization of irises as easy to go seems to fit. Depending on genera, they grow from bulbs, rhizomes or corms. Once established in a garden, they grow from year to year with basic fertilizing in the spring and cutting back the tops in the fall.
True irises (iris) are flowering plants in the iris family (Iridaceae), and a variety of native and introduced species grow in home gardens and in the wild throughout the United States.
Approximately ten different species are Pacific Northwest natives, including the Yellowleaf Iris pictured above.
Mostly known for their beauty, irises are also very hardy plants, requiring little more than an area with partial sun. Otherwise, different species can be found growing in a variety of habitats from meadows to forests.
Despite their beauty, Irises also carry a caution label. Many, if not all species, are reported as having toxic roots that can cause problems when ingested by grazing livestock and pets.
Picture two shows the Tough leaf or Oregon iris (Iris tenax), native to the Cascade region of Washington State and Oregon.
Blue-eyed grass is the common name given to a genus (Sisyrinchium) of small flowering plants in the iris family.
Species in the genus grow among grasses in wetland areas of meadows and fields throughout much of the United States.
Their colorful petals stand out against their green background.
The Grass Widow (Olsynium douglasii) represents the entire North American Olsynium genus.
The purple flower rests on a slim stem with surrounding thin leaves. It grows in vernal areas, in open grassy areas of the Pacific Northwest.
They can be propagated by seed and make a nice addition to a rock garden. The picture shows the flower enlarged by a factor of two.
© 2009-2012 Patricia A. Michaels