This family is composed of perennial herbs growing in moist places and having long linear or sword-shaped leaves and large showy flowers. Iris is named from the Greek,.meaning rainbow and it certainly is no misnomer as applied to the Blue Flag or Iris which is the most common of the genus. Small indeed is the pond-hole that somewhere around its edge does not have a little colony of the beautiful "Fleur-de-lis". The perpetuation of this species in healthy condition is insured because of the formation of the flower, which is such that self-pollenization is practically impossible. The stamens are directly under the strap-like divisions of the style and the stigma is on the upper surface at the rolled-up tip. Bees are the most frequent visitors and the most valuable ones for the plants.
Blue Flag; Iris. Iris versicolor.
Flower solitary, from a green spathe at the end of a long peduncle; sepals, neither bearded nor crested, but broad, violet and handsomely veined; petals erect, flat and spatulate. Leaves sword-shaped, glaucus-green, folded into a flat cluster at the base. Very common from Newfoundland to Manitoba and southwards, flowering from May to July.
Slender Blue Flag (Iris Prismatica) is more slender in all its parts; narrow leaves, slender stem and very slender pedicels. Found in marshes near the coast from N. B. to Ga.
Blackberry Lily (Belamcanda Chinensis) Chinese) has the sepals and petals of equal size and colored alike; a golden-orange, thickly speckled with brownish purple. Stem branching and with a loose cluster of six to twelve buds or blossoms. Fruit blackberry-like, studded with black seeds. An escape from gardens.
A. Blue-eyed Grass. Sisyrinchium angustifolium. B. Crested Dwarf Iris. Iris cristata.
Flowers usually solitary, very delicate in form and of a light violet color; the sepals have a central crested rib of a bright orange color; the smaller petals are also crested. The tube is long and thread-like. Leaves lanceolate, about 5 to 7 in. long; those forming the spathe are ovate-lanceolate. This attractive little Iris is found on rich wooded hillsides and along streams, from Md. and Ind. southwards, flowering in April and May.
Dwarf Iris (I. Verna) has linear, grass-like leaves covered with a whitish bloom. Sepals not crested but rather downy on their yellowish base; color pale violet or even white. Found on rich wooded hillsides from Pa. southwards.
Northern Nemastylis (Nemastylis Acuta) has a branching stem, at the end of which are one or two flowers growing on slender pedicels from a grasslike spathe. The six parts of the blue or purple perianth spread from 1 to 2 inches. It has long, linear leaves coming from the coated bulb. Found on prairies and barrens from Ky. to Mo., southward.
Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium Angustifolium) , as one would suspect from the name, has grass-like leaves and flowers that make one think of bright little blue eyes as they peep out of the meadow grass in which you find them.
The Blue-eyed Grasses have recently been separated into thirteen species, differing chiefly in the comparative lengths of the flower spathes, or the lengths of the leaves as compared to the flower stem. If one wishes to know the exact specific name of the species he finds, we refer him to the new edition of Gray's Botany (7th Ed.) The six divisions of the flower are regular, violet, with a yellow or white star-shaped center; each sepal is blunt, with a thorn-like tip. Common from N. B. to B. C. and southwards.