by Jim Murrain
Iris brevicaulis is a Louisiana Iris species. It was first described from a plant found in Jackson County, Missouri on June 6, 1897. It still grows in the same location. That specimen is considered the 'type' or what all descriptions of this Iris are based upon. It was described and named Iris foliosa, the leafy Iris. Iris brevicaulis had previously been named, but the description was changed to match I. foliosa and the currently accepted name is Iris brevicaulis, the short stemmed Iris.
Above and below: I. brevicaulis from the 'type' location in Missouri.
I. brevicaulis is the hardiest and most wide ranging of the Louisiana irises. It has been found from Leavenworth, Kansas all the way to the northeast shore of Lake Erie in Ontario, Canada, as far southwest as The Big Thicket of east Texas and southeast into the Florida Panhandle.
Below is one from Alabama.
Oh course, as with all Louisiana irises (and the reason for the descriptive name) the greatest concentrations are found in and near the bayous of south Louisiana. I. brevicaulis, however, prefers it drier than the other members of its group and is found above the riverbanks and in moist fields.
A purple and a dark blue found in Arkansas.
It readily hybridizes with the other Louisiana Iris species and imparts greater hardiness and a lessened need for wet conditions, so it should be used even more in hybridization.
Below is an interesting color form, named 'Finders Keepers', selected by Frank Chowning and registered in 1961. There is still much of interest in the straight species and they are worth growing on their own merits.
There is also a registered 'All Falls' with six falls and no standards that I would love to see, and several selections of white flowered forms.
Iris brevicaulis is the easiest of all Louisiana Iris species to grow and the latest to flower, thus a fine season extender. Consider adding this iris to your garden.