Holt Pond - Blue Flag (Iris)

T.J. Martin

Bridgton, United States

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Viewed 598 Times as of November 20, 2012
Taken July 6, 2011 – Bridgton, Maine
Canon Rebel XSi with Canon 100mm Macro Lens

Iris, the Latin for Iris
versicolor, from the Latin, “with various colors”
Blue Flag, from its flower color and the old word for Iris
Other common names include: American Blue Flag, Dagger Flower, Dragon Flower, Flag Lily, Harlequin Blueflag, Liver Lily, Poison Flag, Snake Lily, Water Flag , Water Iris, fleur-de-lis, flower-de-luce, clajeux (Qué), Lis met Bontkleurige Bloem (NL), kosatec strakatý (Slovak)


A hardy lakeshore perennial herb of shallow water, 2’-3’ tall
Leaves narrow, sword-shaped bears two ranks of sword-shaped, long, narrow leaves sword-like leaves emerge from thick horizontal root stock (corm) which are covered with fibrous roots. This emergent will grow to heights of four feet in spreading clumps. The individual leaves are somewhat shorter than the entire plant. Leaves are folded on the midribs so that they form an overlapping flat fan.
Stems unwinged, erect, generally have basal leaves that are more than 1 cm. wide. stout stem grows from a thick, cylindrical, creeping rootstock nearly straight flowering stems
Rhizome tends to form large clumps from thick, creeping rhizomes.annual joints, 2" or more long, about ¾" in diameter, cylindrical in the lower half, becoming compressed towards the crown, where the cup-shaped stem-scar is seen, when dry, and numerous rings, formed of leaf scars are apparent above and scars of rootlets below. It is dark brown externally and longitudinally wrinkled. The fracture is short, purplish, the vascular bundles scattered through the central column.
Root rootlets are long, slender and simple.
Flower large, showy, light to deep blue with yellow and whitish markings at the base of the sepals. Borne 2-3 to a stem. The well developed flower petals and sepals spread out nearly flat and have two forms.
Sepals 3, petal-like, spreading or recurved with a greenish-yellow blotch at their base.
Petals 3, smaller than the sepals
Ovary inferior (below flower), bluntly angled.
Fruit a three celled, bluntly angled capsule, 1½" long and ¾" in diameter. Two rows of densely packed seeds form within each cell.
Seed large, brown, with a flattened round form. Can be observed floating on the water’s surface in the fall. Average of 18,000 seeds per pound.


A waterside and shallow water plant; the only iris native to the North Country.
Distinguished from the closely related, more southerly species, Iris virginica, by its cauline (stem) leaves that often exceed the flowers whereas the cauline leaves of Iris versicolor are usually shorter than or equal to the height of the flowers.


Newfoundland to Manitoba, south to Florida and Arkansas.
Iris versicolor tends to be more northern in its regional distribution, while Iris virginica is more southern.
Abundant in swamps and low grounds throughout eastern and central North America, common in Canada, as well as in the United States, liking a loamy or peaty soil.


Edges of ponds and moist soils; shallow waters, sedge meadows, marshes, and along streambanks and shores.

Artwork Comments

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  • Helen K. Passey
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