Kimberly J. Smith


Kimberly J. Smith

Class
Monocotyledoneae (Monocots)
Family
Iridaceae (Iris Family)
State Protection
Endangered
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
S1
Global Conservation Status Rank
G5T5

Summary

Did you know?

This variety of Iris virginica was named for Ralph Shreve, a horticulturist and surveyor who grew and sold irises and other Ozark wildflowers from his farm in Farmington, Arkansas (Shreve 1927, Fernald 1970). This variety was first discovered in New York in 1998.

State Ranking Justification

There are three existing populations along the Niagara River and one historical population near Sodus Bay.

Short-term Trends

The existing populations seem stable.

Long-term Trends

Most of the populations in New York were not found until after 1997.

Conservation and Management

Threats

Shoreline development, trampling by fishermen, boat traffic through the marshes, and invasive species threaten these populations.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Invasive species should be suppressed near these populations. Fishermen and any planned trails should be kept away from the marshes where these occur.

Research Needs

There are no research needs identified at this time.

Habitat

Habitat

In New York, Southern Blue Flag has been found in open marshes and sedge meadows with saturated soils , typically dominated by cattails and graminoids (New York Natural Heritage Program 2013). Wetlands, margins of lakes and streams (FNA 2002). Swamps, marshes, meadows, and ditches (Gleason and Cronquist 1991). Marshes, bottomland, wet savannah, and shallow water (Fernald 1970)

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Sedge meadow (guide)
  • Shallow emergent marsh (guide)

Associated Species

  • Acer negundo
  • Agrostis stolonifera (creeping bent)
  • Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)
  • Butomus umbellatus (flowering-rush)
  • Carex granularis (limestone-meadow sedge)
  • Carex lacustris (lake-bank sedge)
  • Carex stricta (tussock sedge)
  • Equisetum arvense (field horsetail, common horsetail)
  • Eupatorium perfoliatum (boneset)
  • Eutrochium maculatum var. maculatum (spotted Joe-Pye-weed)
  • Glyceria melicaria (slender manna grass)
  • Impatiens capensis (spotted jewelweed, spotted touch-me-not)
  • Ipomoea hederacea (ivy-leaved morning-glory)
  • Juncus tenuis (path rush)
  • Lysimachia terrestris (swamp-candles)
  • Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife)
  • Nymphaea odorata
  • Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia-creeper)
  • Phragmites australis (old world reed grass, old world phragmites)
  • Physocarpus opulifolius (ninebark)
  • Pontederia cordata (pickerelweed)
  • Populus deltoides
  • Rhus typhina (stag-horn sumac)
  • Rubus odoratus (purple-flowering raspberry)
  • Sagittaria latifolia (common arrowhead)
  • Salix alba (white willow)
  • Salix eriocephala (heart-leaved willow, Missouri willow)
  • Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis (common elderberry)
  • Scirpus atrovirens (dark-green bulrush)
  • Typha angustifolia (narrow-leaved cat-tail)
  • Typha latifolia (wide-leaved cat-tail)
  • Ulmus americana (American elm)
  • Vitis riparia (river grape, frost grape)

Range

New York State Distribution

In New York Southern Blue Flag is found only on Niagara river islands, though there are historical records from the shore of Lake Ontario and from Long Island.

Global Distribution

New York marks the northeastern limit of this Iris's distribution. It ranges west to Minnesota, south to Louisiana and east Texas, and throughout most of the southeast. All our New York specimens are subspecies virginica.

Identification Comments

General Description

Iris virginica var. shrevei is an erect, colony-forming, perennial forb that grows from 50 cm to 1 m tall. It spreads via creeping rhizomes which typically bear 1 to 3 branches. The stems are solid and 2 to 3-branched. The leaves are basal, upright or suberect with buff to purplish bases. They are sword-like (linear-ensiform), with gray-green to bright green blades with several prominent ribs. The main inflorescences are 2 to 3-flowered. The flowers are 6-parted, with the outer parts (sepals) spreading and arched, 4 to 8.4 cm long by 1.6 to 4 cm wide, and pale blue to purple (rarely white) with darker lines and a fine, pubscent yellow patch at the base. The inner parts (petals) are somewhat lanceolate to spade-shaped, 3 to 7 cm long by 1 to 3 cm wide with often notched tips.. The fruits are prominently beaked capsules 5 to 10 cm long and 1.4 to 2 cm wide (FNA 2002).

Identifying Characteristics

Iris virginica var. shrevei is an erect, colony-forming, perennial forb that grows from 50 cm to 1 m tall. It spreads via its creeping rhizomes which bear typically 1 to 3 branches. The stems are solid and 2 to 3 branched. The leaves are basal, upright or suberect and generally sword-like (linear-ensiform) with gray-green to bright green blades with several prominent ribs on mature leaves and buff to purplish bases. The main inflorescences are 2 to 3 flowered, with 1 to 2 flowered branches. The flowers are 6-parted and enclosed by compact sheathing bracts (spathes) often bearing brown striations. They are typically lavender to violet colored, rarely white, with the outer parts (sepals) spreading and arched, 4 to 8.4 cm long by 1.6 to 4 cm wide, and pale blue to purple with darker blue or purple lines and a fine pubscent yellow patch at the base. The inner parts (petals) are somewhat lanceolate to spade-shaped, 3 to 7 cm long by 1 to 3 cm wide often notched tips and with a greenish yellow narrowed base (claw) bearing blue or purplish lines. The fruits are capsules are prominently beaked and frequently long-cylindic in shape and 5 to 10 cm long by 1.4 to 2 cm wide. (FNA 2002)

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

For positive identification the whole plant including the stem, leaves and a mature intact flower is best.

Similar Species

A number of other Iris species occur in New York. Iris versicolor, the most similar to Iris virginiana var. shrevei, can be distinguished in flower by its pubescent green to greenish-yellow patch on the sepals that is surrounded by heavily veined, purple-on-white area (signal). Which contrasts with Iris virginica var. shrevei's sepals which have a pubescent bright yellow patch at their bases. Iris prismatica also occurs on Long Island and the southern Hudson Valley but can be distinguished by its narrow leaves (2 to 9mm) and stoloniferous single stemmed habit, contrasting with Iris virginica var. shrevei's rhizomatous, clumped growth habit and broader leaves (3 to 4 cm). Iris verna var. smalliana is a non-native species that can be distinguished from I. virginica var. shrevei by its broader leaves (5 to 13 cm), single-stemmed habit, and short stature, as it is only 5 to 15 cm tall.

Best Time to See

Southern blue flag typically flowers beginning in early May and continuing through mid-July. Fruiting typically begins in mid-June with fruits persisting until late September.

  • Vegetative
  • Flowering
  • Fruiting

The time of year you would expect to find Southern Blue Flag vegetative, flowering, and fruiting in New York.

Southern Blue Flag Images

Taxonomy

Southern Blue Flag
Iris virginica var. shrevei (Small) E. Anders.

  • Kingdom Plantae
    • Phylum Anthophyta
      • Class Monocotyledoneae (Monocots)
        • Order Liliales
          • Family Iridaceae (Iris Family)

Synonyms

  • Iris shrevei Small

Additional Resources

Best Identification Reference

Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2002. Flora of North America, North of Mexico. Volume 26. Magnoliophyta: Liliidae: Liliales and Orchidales. Oxford University Press, New York. 723 pp.

Other References

Fernald, M.L. 1970. Gray's Manual of Botany. 8th edition. D. Van Nostrand, New York. 1632 pp.

Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

Holmgren, Noel. 1998. The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Mitchell, Richard S. and Gordon C. Tucker. 1997. Revised Checklist of New York State Plants. Contributions to a Flora of New York State. Checklist IV. Bulletin No. 490. New York State Museum. Albany, NY. 400 pp.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2019. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.

Shreve, Ralph. 1927. Hardy Wildflowers from the Ozarks, Fall 1927-Spring 1928. Shreve Farm. Farmington, Arkansas.

Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research http://www.fccdr.usf.edu/. University of South Florida http://www.usf.edu/]. New York Flora Association http://newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu/, Albany, New York

Links

About This Guide

This guide was authored by: Richard M. Ring

Information for this guide was last updated on: April 2, 2013

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2019. Online Conservation Guide for Iris virginica var. shrevei. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/southern-blue-flag/. Accessed March 19, 2019.

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