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Iridaceae
Plants of the Iris Family

      Stop and look closely at an iris or gladiolus the next time you come across one in a yard, a bouquet, or at the florist. Members of this family produce regular, bisexual flowers with parts in multiples of three. There are 3 sepals, colored to look like petals, and 3 true petals, plus 3 stamens. The ovary is positioned inferior and consists of 3 united carpels (syncarpous/tricarpellate) with the partition walls usually present, forming an equal number of chambers. It matures as a capsule containing many seeds.

      The styles of the pistil are often distinctive; in the Iris they look like a third set of petals and the stamens are hidden underneath-this is well worth looking at! Overall, the flowers of the Iris family look much like the Lilies. One key difference is that the leaves of the Irises all lay together at the base of the plant in a flat plane. Also note that the Lilies have 6 stamens, while the Irises only have 3.

      Worldwide, there are 70 genera and about 1,500 species. Five genera are native to North America. Gladiolus is a well-known cultivated member of this family. The expensive saffron spice is made from the stigmas of Crocus sativus.

Key Words: "Like Lilies, but with leaves in a flat plane."

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Iris pseudacorus. Yellow Iris.

Iris pseudacorus. Yellow Iris. Native to Europe, western Asia and northwest Africa. Introduced to the U.S.

Iris missouriensis. Wild Iris.

Iris missouriensis. Wild Iris.

Sisyrinchium idahoense. Blue-Eyed Grass.

Sisyrinchium idahoense. Blue-Eyed Grass.

There are more
Iris Family pictures
at PlantSystematics.org.



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