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Nemastylis geminiflora (Prairie celestials)
Marcus, Joseph A.

Nemastylis geminiflora

Nemastylis geminiflora Nutt.

Prairie Celestials, Celestials, Prairie Pleatleaf

Iridaceae (Iris Family)

Synonym(s): Ixia acuta, Nemastylis acuta


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

The sky-blue flowers open in late morning and curl up before 3 in the afternoon, even on overcast days. Each flower only lasts one day. Once the seed has ripened, the bulb is renewed and the plant disappears until following spring. The bulbs colonize over time.

A member of the iris family (family Iridaceae) which consists of herbs growing from rhizomes, bulbs, or corms, with narrow basal leaves and showy clusters at the tips of long stalks. There are about 60 genera and 1,500 species, distributed in temperate and tropical regions. Among them, Iris, Freesia, Gladiolus, Bugle Lily, and Montbretia are popular ornamentals. Saffron dye is obtained from Crocus, and "essence of violets," used in perfumes, is extracted from the rhizomes of Iris.


From the Image Gallery

47 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Normally 6 to 12 inches, but can reach 18 inches.
Flower: Flowers 1 to 2 inches wide

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Blue
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
Bloom Notes: Sky blue, bloom period about 2 weeks, with each flower surviving only one day, opening in the morning and closing late afternoon.


USA: AL , AR , KS , LA , MO , MS , OK , TN , TX
Native Distribution: Kansas and Missouri to central Texas
Native Habitat: Prairie, Plains, Meadows, Pastures, Savannas

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2)
Soil Description: Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Sandy, Limestone; Calcareous, Well-drained


Use Ornamental: Showy, Wildflower meadow, Shortgrass meadow, Blooms ornamental, Ground cover
Use Wildlife: Nectar-Bees
Conspicuous Flowers: yes


Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Salvage bulbs if possible, or sow seed in fall.
Seed Collection: Collect seed in May, June.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0206 Collected Apr. 7, 1992 in Comal County by Mary Beth White

1 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-21 Collected 2006-05-24 in Travis County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 765 - McMillen's Texas Gardening: Wildflowers (1998) Howard, D.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 281 - Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas (1999) Diggs, G. M.; B. L. Lipscomb; B. O'Kennon; W. F...
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
Bibref 286 - Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country (1989) Enquist, M.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Nemastylis geminiflora in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Nemastylis geminiflora in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Nemastylis geminiflora


Record Modified: 2023-01-16
Research By: NPC

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