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Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia
Iris cristata Aiton
Dwarf crested iris
Synonym(s): Iris cristata var. alba, Neubeckia cristata
USDA Symbol: ircr
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
This is a small iris, its clusters of narrow, pointed leaves ranging in height from only 4-16 in. The sepals of the its blue-violet flowers are distinctly marked with a central yellow or white, purple striped band. Crested ridges called beards occur along the band. One (occasionally 2) violet-blue flower with 6 spreading, petal-like parts, atop a short slender stalk.
This is a low iris of southern and midwestern wooded uplands. Dwarf Iris (I. verna) has non-crested sepals, narrower leaves less than 1/2 (1.5 cm) wide, and occurs in peaty soil and pine barrens from New York south to Florida, west to Arkansas, and northeast to Missouri, Kentucky, and Ohio.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Size Notes:
6 inches high Flower:
Flowers 2.5 inches across
Tan Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Blue , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
Bloom Notes: Colors range through various shades of blue through purple to white.
, WV Native Distribution: PA
w. to e. OK; Zones 5 to 7 Native Habitat:
Rocky, rich, wooded slopes; bluffs; sandy stream banks
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well-drained, rich, acid soils.
Conditions Comments: Soils which are too rich encourage rank vegetative growth in this species. Ordinary, dryish soil is preferable.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Popular for its large, blue to white, spring flowers on small-statured plants in Southeastern shade gardens.
Use Wildlife: Flowers attracts hummingbirds and bees.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Nectar Source: yes
Root Division , Seeds Description:
If seeds are collected, they should be planted immediately in acid soil. Seedlings will take two or three years to flower. Propagating by division is much more reliable than seeds. Divide in early fall when the leaves have begun to yellow. Seed Collection:
Collect the leathery capsule
approximately 6-8 weeks after flowering when they have turned brown. Only a small percentage of flowers in a population will produce capsules. Storage greatly reduces viability. Commercially Avail:
Colonizes by rhizomes, so separate as desired.
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Delaware Nature Society
- Hockessin, DEMt. Cuba Center
- Hockessin, DE
Record Last Modified: 2013-09-09
Research By: TWC Staff