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Herbertia lahue ssp. caerulea (Prairie nymph)
Pyle, Lynn

Herbertia lahue ssp. caerulea

Herbertia lahue (Molina) Goldblatt ssp. caerulea (Herb.) Goldblatt

Prairie Nymph, Herbertia

Iridaceae (Iris Family)

Synonym(s): Alophia drummondii, Herbertia caerulea, Trifurcia caerulea, Trifurcia lahue ssp. caerulea

USDA Symbol: helac

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

The deep purple flowers, almost orchid-like in their exotic beauty, only appear for about two weeks in the spring, with each flower only lasting a day, opening in the morning and closing in mid-afternoon. Once it has set seed it goes dormant. Found in shortgrass areas.

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

1 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 10 inches tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Purple , Violet
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
Bloom Notes: The flowers, although quite beautiful, only last for a few hours before shriveling and the bloom period only lasts a couple of weeks.


USA: FL , LA , MS , TX
Native Distribution: Southeastern North America from Florida to central Texas
Native Habitat: Shortgrass areas in dappled shade to full sun

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Prefers sands and clays


Conspicuous Flowers: yes

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


Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Herbertia lahue ssp. caerulea in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Herbertia lahue ssp. caerulea in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Herbertia lahue ssp. caerulea


Record Modified: 2023-02-13
Research By: TWC Staff

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