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Iris fulva (Copper iris)
Smith, R.W.

Iris fulva

Iris fulva Ker Gawl.

Copper Iris, Red Iris

Iridaceae (Iris Family)

Synonym(s): Iris ecristata

USDA Symbol: irfu

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Showy copper, red or orange, drooping petals and spreading sepals make up the terminal flower of this otherwise typical iris. Showy, reddish-brown flowers with 6 widely spreading, petal-like parts on a slender stalk taller than sword-like leaves. The flowering stem is up to 3 ft. high. Long, narrow leaves are bright green.

This beautiful southern iris of wet sloughs and swampy woods has distinctly flat-topped flowers compared to other irises. It can be cultivated in moist wildflower gardens.


From the Image Gallery

12 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Retention: Semi-evergreen
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Usually up to about 3 feet tall, rarely to 5 feet.
Leaf: Green
Flower: 2 to 3 inches.
Fruit: 2 to 3 inches.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Orange , Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun
Bloom Notes: Usually brick red to orange, occasionally yellow.


USA: AL , AR , FL , GA , IL , KY , LA , MO , MS , TN , TX
Native Distribution: S. IL & MO, s. to MS & LA, along coast to GA
Native Habitat: Freshwater marshes; stream banks; pine savannas; cypress swamps; wet pastures

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium , High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2) , Acidic (pH<6.8) , Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: Low
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Saturated, rich soils. Normally grows in acid soils but can tolerate lime.
Conditions Comments: Leaves more likely to persist through winter if doesn't get too wet or too dry.


Use Ornamental: Popular in Southern gardens
Use Wildlife: Attracts hummingbirds and bees
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Nectar Source: yes


Propagation Material: Root Division , Seeds
Description: Clump division is the usual method of increase. All native iris can be grown from seed.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Will colonize by rhizomes, so thin out if spreads too far.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX


Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.

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


Record Modified: 2023-02-14
Research By: TWC Staff

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