Monday, August 24, 2015

Understanding Louisiana Iris Part 3: Iris brevicaulis

                                                                                              By Joe Musacchia

    I. brevicaulis is the smallest of this species group. Most stalks are only 12-13 inches tall. The flowers are small  3-4 inches across. The stalks are very zig-zag and tend to lie down.  They produce no branches. 

   The typical flower is blue-violet with white underlay and yellow signals. They have been found in many varied shades  from deep blue to a lavender-blue. 

'Pink Joy Roberts'
'Finders Keepers'

Their range is the entire Mississippi River Valley, the Ohio Valley and some of the Missouri Valley. It has been spotted as far north as Canada and around the Great Lakes. 

As you can see it is very cold hardy. I. brevicaulis do not do well in water. It grows on the field edges and ridges, not in the ditches and swamps with standing water. They do like a lot of moisture though. I. brevicaulis is the last of this group to bloom.

Other characteristics are: it grows in full sun, the rhizomes are smaller and it grows on tight clumps.
One rhizome forming a clump.

One very easy way to tell if a cultivar has brevicaulis in it is the pubescence signal.

With the addition of I brevicaulis in the mix we add a lot of new possibilities. OK, so let's explore the good, the bad, and the ugly.  The good: Zig zag stalk opens up flower presentation. Tighter clumps makes them better neighbors. They are more cold tolerant so extend the growing range. Bloom later extending the bloom season. The bad: Flowers open in the foliage and stalks tend to lie down. They do not grow in water so if a cultivar has a lot of brevi in it may not do well in water culture. The ugly: Sorry I have never seen an ugly Louisiana.    

Jim Murrain had an excellent piece on  I brevicaulis  in this blog on FEBRUARY 10, 2014. Click here to take a look.

Previously on this series:

Next we look at I Nelsonii.

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