Iris brevicaulis Raf.
CC = 10
CW = -5
MOC = 9
Family - Iridaceae
Habit - Rhizomatous perennial forb, the rhizomes lacking conspicuously thickened areas.
Stems - Usually decumbent, to 35 cm, much shorter than the leaves, often zigzag, round in cross section, smooth, glabrous.
Leaves - Basal and alternate on the aerial stems, 35-70 cm long, 15-35 mm wide, 2-ranked, linear and straplike, flat, loosely ascending.
Inflorescences - Clusters of flowers terminal and axillary, each with 1-4 flowers, the spathelike bracts subequal, 3-5 cm long, herbaceous, green.
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.
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.
Photographs taken near Krakow, Franklin County, MO, 6-3-2021 (SRTurner).