Iris brevicaulis Raf.

Short-Stemmed Iris


CC = 10
CW = -5
MOC = 9

© SRTurner

Family - Iridaceae

Habit - Rhizomatous perennial forb, the rhizomes lacking conspicuously thickened areas.

Iris_brevicaulis_habit.jpg Habit. Flowers are typically overtopped and partially hidden by leaves.

© SRTurner

Stems - Usually decumbent, to 35 cm, much shorter than the leaves, often zigzag, round in cross section, smooth, glabrous.

Iris_brevicaulis_stem.jpg Stem and flower.

© SRTurner

Leaves - Basal and alternate on the aerial stems, 35-70 cm long, 15-35 mm wide, 2-ranked, linear and straplike, flat, loosely ascending.

Iris_brevicaulis_leaves1.jpg Leaves.

© SRTurner

Iris_brevicaulis_leaves2.jpg Leaf surfaces.

© SRTurner

Inflorescences - Clusters of flowers terminal and axillary, each with 1-4 flowers, the spathelike bracts subequal, 3-5 cm long, herbaceous, green.

Iris_brevicaulis_bud.jpg Flower bud.

© SRTurner

Iris_brevicaulis_bract.jpg Flower and spathelike bract.

© SRTurner

Flowers - Sepals 3, 7.0-9.5 cm long, spreading downward, obovate, not bearded but with a papillose longitudinal ridge, light violet to more commonly violet-blue with a broad, yellow area in the basal half and usually whitish green veins along the narrowed, basal portion. Petals 3, slightly shorter and narrower than the sepals, spreading, light violet to more commonly violet-blue. Stamens 3, usually not fused basally. Styles with the 3 style branches enlarged and petaloid, positioned over the sepals and concealing the stamens, 2-lobed at the tips, the stigmatic area at the base of these lobes and covered by a flap of tissue.

Iris_brevicaulis_perianth.jpg Perianth.

© SRTurner

Iris_brevicaulis_sepal.jpg Sepal.

© SRTurner

Fruits - Oblong capsules 3-5 cm long, ovoid to elliptic in outline, 6-angled. Seeds flattened, arillate.

Flowering - May - June.

Habitat - Mesic bottomland forests, mostly along streams and sloughs, sometimes in ravines at the bases of mesic, wooded slopes. Also cultivated.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Lookalikes - Other irises, particularly Iris virginica, Iris germanica, Iris cristata.

Other info. - This species of iris is relatively uncommon in Missouri. It is sometimes cultivated, though less commonly than other species due to its somewhat lesser degree of showiness. Wild occurrences are scattered, predominantly north of the Missouri River, and also a few states to the east and south of Missouri. The flowers are similar in appearance to those of other blue-flowered irises. This species is recognized by having no beard on the sepals, and well-developed but usually decumbent aerial stems. This latter characteristic positions the flowers low, where they are typically overtopped and partially hidden by the leaves. The plants can grow and flower even in relatively dense shade.

The epithet brevicaulis means "short-stemmed."

Photographs taken at the Whiskey Creek Sheep Farm, near Krakow, Franklin County, MO, 6-3-2021 (SRTurner).