Iridaceae: Iris Family

African Cornflag – Chasmanthe floribunda

Blooms:

Feb–May

Plant Height:

< 1 m

Flower Size:

Large cluster

Origin:

South Africa

Habitat:

Garden escape

Notes:

This is a dramatic plant, with a dense clump of long basal leaves and a 1–2 branched stem.  The stem bears large clusters of orange-red flowers in two ranks (i.e. borne alternately on opposite sides of the stem) like a many-branched candelabra.  Escaping from cultivation, this has become naturalized at Point Lobos and nearby.

Douglas Iris – Iris douglasiana

Blooms:

Mar–July

Plant Height:

15–50 cm

Flower Size:

Large

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Woodland

Notes:

This beautiful iris is common in coastal areas.  The flower is made of 3 long petal-like sepals, which are broad and down-curving; and 3 true petals, which are narrower, shorter and more erect.  Above each sepal is a style branch, another petal-like structure with an upturned tip.  Leaf blades are long and curving, attached edge-wise to the stem. The flower varies in color from lavender to rich blue-purple.  It usually has white veins, and a yellowish patch towards the base of the sepal.

Yellow Flag Iris – Iris pseudacorus

Blooms:

Apr–June

Plant Height:

0.5–1.5 m

Flower Size:

Large

Origin:

Eurasia

Invasive?

Yes – limited

Habitat:

Woodland

Notes:

A typical iris in its appearance, but unmistakable with its bright yellow flowers.  Found on pond margins.

Rosy Sand Crocus – Romulea rosea var. australis

Blooms:

Mar–Apr

Plant Height:

< 10 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

South Africa

Habitat:

Garden escape

Notes:

This is a garden escape, originally in the Carmel Highlands but now occasional across the Monterey Peninsula.  Flowers are 15–20 mm across, with pink or lilac lobes and a yellow throat.  Leaves are cylindric or elliptic in cross-section.

Blue-eyed Grass – Sisyrinchium bellum

Blooms:

Mar–May

Plant Height:

< 64 cm

Flower Size:

Small-medium

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Open grassland

Notes:

Despite its common name, this flower is more purple than blue (occasionally white) and has a vivid yellow throat. Lanceolate leaves clasp each other in true iris fashion. Purists ridicule the common name as being incorrect on all counts, preferring something like “yellow-eyed purple iris”.

Golden-eyed / Yellow-eyed Grass – Sisyrinchium californicum

Blooms:

Mar–May

Plant Height:

< 62 cm

Flower Size:

Small-medium

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Moist places near coast

Notes:

Similar in size and shape to the more common Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium bellum, see above).  The flower is bright yellow with slightly darker longitudinal stripes.  It has grass-like leaves and jointed stems.