Wild Iris – Iris Setosa

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Alaska Wildflowers | Purple

Wild Iris – Iris Setosa

Wild Iris

Iris setosa Pall.

Alt. Names:
Wild flag
Bristle-pointed iris
Beachhead iris

Genus: Iris
Family: Iridaceae
Order: Asparagales

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Duration: Perennial
Uses: Poisonous
The petals are used to make dyes.
Historically a laxative was made from the roots by the Aleut.
Used for erosion control.

Wild Iris Identification

The flower of the Iris setosa is deep violet to blue 6-10 cm (2.5-4 inches) across. The plant grows up to 1 m (3 feet) tall. The wild iris has two sets of 3 petals. The larger outer sepals called falls are veined and often have a white and/or yellow center. The inner petals, called the standard, are narrow and upright. There are usually 3 flowers on each stalk, although it may range between 1-4 flowers.

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The green leaves are basal, long, lanceolate, narrow, and grasslike. They can grow to 30-60 cm (12-24 inches) in length and are purplish at the base. The stems are round, branched, and typically taller than the leaves. The seed pod is divided into a 3-section cup with 3 brown seeds.

Habitat and Range

The Wild Iris tends to live in moist soil but is also found in drier or rocky soil. It is frequently found near lake shores, beachheads, bogs, and meadows. Iris setosa is native to Alaska (except Brooks Range and northeast) and much of Canada (mostly the coastal provinces except for Nunavut and Northwest Territories), Maine, and New Hampshire. It can also be found in parts of Asia such as Siberia, China, Korea, and Japan.


Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg 2
Iris setosa Pall. ex Link, ITIS Database
Our Native Irises: Blue Flag Irises, USDA – U.S. Forest Service
Knik Germplasm wild iris Iris setosa Selected Class Release “Natural”, State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Agriculture
Iris setosa Pall. ex Link beachhead iris, USDA Database

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