Mustard Barberry, Spiderwort And Phlox Families
Iris Family Iridaceae
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Iris Family Iridaceae
( Originally Published 1908 )
The members of this interesting family are perennial herbs which usually have thickened or bulbous roots, with vertical two-ranked leaves and showy flowers in which the three stamens face outward. While this group includes many of our most beautiful cultivated plants there are comparatively few wild flowers belonging to it. Of these the Wild Iris or Blue Flag is perhaps the most abundant widely distributed species.
BLUE FLAG. Writing of the common Wild Iris, or Larger Blue Flag, many years ago, the naturalist Thoreau, remarked that it is " loose and coarse " in habit, and also added that it is " too showy and gaudy, like some women's bon-nets." Fortunately, however, few flower lovers will agree with this judgment, for to most of us the Blue Flag, as it grows along the borders of the running brooks or in the margins of ponds, is one of the most delightful of wild flowers. It is not so attractive when gathered and used for indoor decoration, as are many others, but the beauty of such a plant is to be judged by the place where Nature puts it.
The flower of the Blue Flag is of especial interest in its structure because it shows a remarkable adaptation to cross-pollination by insects. The style of the pistil is developed into a petal-like expanse, on the under side of which is the stigma. The other parts of the flower are so arranged that when a bee comes for nectar it brushes past the stigma, leaving pollen upon it. Then it receives a new supply of the golden dust to carry to the next blossom that it visits. Bumble-bees are the most frequent of these visitors, but there are also many species of flies and butterflies. If you will watch some of the Iris flowers for half an hour you can see how the bees get the nectar and also how some of the butterflies are able to steal this sweetness without pollenizing the stigma.
BLUE-EYED GRASS. The Blue-eyed Grass is always a favorite with children as well as with many older people. The small violet-blue blossom has a yellow center which, with the chief color of the petals, makes what the artists call a complementary harmony. The plant is not at all a grass, belonging rather to the interesting Iris family, so that the one who called this Blue-eyed Grass " the little sister of the stately Blue Flag " was right. You can easily see the resemblance in the mode of growth as well as in the structure of the flower. The blossoming period is very short. In cloudy or rainy weather the blossoms remain closed, opening only in the sunshine.
In addition to the common species of Blue-eyed Grass some botanists recognize two others : namely, the Stout Blue-eyed Grass and the Eastern Blue-eyed Grass.