Thomas J. Elpel's
Web World Portal

Wildflowers & Weeds  
Plant Identification, Edible Plants, Weed Ecology, Mushrooms, and more.
Home | Plant Identification | Plant Families Gallery | Edible Plants | Mushrooms | Links
Desertification & Weed Ecology | Profiles of Invasive Weeds | E-Mail | Search this Site

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."

Please e-mail Thomas J. Elpel to report mistakes or to inquire about purchasing high resolution photos of these plants.

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

Check out Botany in a Day

Return to the Plant Families Index

Return to the Wildflowers & Weeds Home Page

authored by
Thomas J. Elpel

to Reality



in Nature

in a Day


Return to Thomas J. Elpel's
Web World Portal | Web World Tunnel

Thomas J. Elpel's Web World Pages
About Tom | Green University®, LLC
HOPS Press, LLC | Dirt Cheap Builder Books
Primitive Living Skills | Sustainable Living Skills
Wildflowers & Weeds | Jefferson River Canoe Trail
Roadmap To Reality | What's New?

© 1997 - 2013 Thomas J. Elpel