Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A non-bloody blood iris

Species name: Iris sanguinea

Common name: Blood iris

Location: Ontario

This species of Iris is native to eastern Asia (China, Mongolia, Russia and Japan) and, like it's Yellow Flag cousin, enjoys having it's "feet wet" in damp soil and grows well as an aquatic plant. Since the flowers are a vivid purple, one can guess (and would be correct in that guess) that the most popular pollinators of the blood iris are bumble bees. Unlike it's yellow cousin, it cannot fully tolerate the "true" conditions of a bog (it will grow happily for a while, but it's not a good competitor) where the water is about pH 4.0. It requires only slightly more alkaline water and/or soil at a pH of at least 5.0 (up to pH 6.5).

Gardeners would describe this plant as being "prolific," which should suggest its invasive nature when conditions are optimal. The blood iris reproduces equally well from seeds and from the uprooting and disturbance of its rhizomes, which can re-root themselves into the ground and produce new plants. Merely pulling the plant out of the ground (which is actually incredibly easy) and throwing it onto a trash pile will grow a new patch of blood iris.

One of the attractions of this plant as a flowering plant for the garden is its late flowering time, depending on your location. In my garden this plant usually flowers from the end of May to the beginning of July, which is actually quite late as far as "spring flowers" go. As with other irises, all parts of this plant should be treated as toxic and this plant should not be consumed in any capacity.


  1. Cool blog! And yay Ontario :)
    (Found you through the nurse k forum drama).
    - A Canadian GP

  2. Thanks for the comment, and I'm glad you like it!
    Thankfully, my blog is drama-free (so far) and I don't see that changing any time soon based on the type of material I blog about :)

  3. Haha, yeah this is much more tame :). It's cool to see your pictures and descriptions of plants that I see while jogging (southern Ontario). I'm learning!
    - A Canadian GP

  4. That's great to hear!
    My secret mission is working... :)

  5. Down here in Maryland I walk along the road through a small woodland area and pass quite a few Morning Lillies. At least that's what my brother calls them. The flower looks similar to this except it is orange. The ground in which it grows would be considered wetland if someone wanted to develop it. Fortunately it is privately owned and the owners are allowing nature to take hold along their fence line.