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Louisiana State Wildflower

Louisiana Iris

Louisiana State Wild Flower: Louisiana Iris

(Iris giganticaerulea )

Adopted in 1990

The Louisiana iris, (Iris giganticaerulea,) was designated the official state wildflower in 1990 (the Louisiana state flower is the magnolia blossom). The iris has sword-like foliage and grows to 5 or 6 feet. It has a wider color range than any other iris (blue, purple, yellow, pink, white, and shades of brownish red). Very often, legislation naming "official" symbols with biological roots is not very specific, neglecting reference to scientific names of any sort. In 1990, the Louisiana iris was made Louisiana official state wildflower. The statute seems to indicate that only this one species, I. giganticearulea, can be considered the "official" wildflower.

 Louisiana State Wildflower: Louisiana Iris

Louisiana State Wild Flower: Louisiana Iris

The Louisiana Iris (I. Giganticaerulea) is perhaps the most magnificent of its species. Although it is adaptable to all climates, it is seen growing wild mainly in damp, marshy locations in Louisiana's coastal areas and for perhaps 100 miles inland. This graceful beauty grows to a height of 5 or 6 feet and has a wider color range than any other iris, from pale blue to deep indigo. It became our official wildflower in 1990.

Perhaps the most magnificent of its species. Although it is adaptable to all climates, it is seen growing wild mainly in damp, marshy locations in Louisiana's coastal areas and for perhaps 100 miles inland.

Mature plant size varies from 1 to 6 feet and flower sizes from 3 to 7 inches across. Flowers occur in March and April. Because all the primary colors are inherent in the various species that contributed to this group, there is no limit to the color range. The Louisiana's, for example, include the purest form of red of any iris.

Identification of the Louisiana Iris

Habitat:

  • Bayous and other wet area along the Gulf coast of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Bloom:

  • Late April in Zone 7/8

Characteristics:

  • Flowers: d 13-15 cm, erect standards, typical is blue or blue purple, also lighter shades and white, rainsed mid-rib on falls of orange or yellow
  • Stem: h 95-116 cm or taller, nearly straight, 2 flowers at apex, singles in axils
  • Leaves: h to 90 cm, w 2.5 cm
  • Rhizome: w 3-4 cm, bare, 20-30 cm annual growth
  • Capsule/Seeds: w 3.5 cm, l 10 cm, green at maturity / large, corky, "D" shaped seed
  • 2n = 44
  • Comments: Largest of the NA natives. Very similar to I. hexagona except larger. Has been classified as a form of I. hexagona.

Cultivation:

  • Sun: Full sun (6 hr min.), afternoon shade if any.
  • Soil type: Neutral to acid, lots of humus.
  • Soil moisture: Moist to wet. Mulch to retain moisture and protect rhizomes from sun burn.
  • Feeding: Feed at onset of growth in spring and fall.
  • Hardiness: Zone 7 maybe 6. Least hardly of the series. Winter mulch above 8.
  • Transplant: Easy in fall or spring after bloom.
  • Seed germination: Plant seeds before they dry.
  • Comments: Generally easy. Will grow in "border garden" conditions with additional water. Needs lots of room. Grows and blooms well for me, but doesn't reach it's potential height. I lost an unprotected clump to a hard freeze here on the 7/8 border.

Louisiana Law

The law designating the Louisiana iris as the official Louisiana state wildflower is found in  the Louisiana Revised Statute, Title 49, Part 8, Section RS 49:154.1.

Title 49 - State administration.
PART VIII. STATE SYMBOLS AND DISPLAY OF FLAGS.
SECTION RS 49:154.1.

§ 154.1. State wildflower

There shall be an official state wildflower. The official state wildflower shall be the Louisiana iris (Giganticaerulea). Its use on official documents of the state and with the insignia of the state is hereby authorized.

Acts 1990, No. 511, §1.

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Louisiana Iris

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
    Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
    Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida - Monocotyledons
    Subclass: Liliidae
Order: Liliales
Family: Iridaceae - Iris family
GenusI: ris L. - iris
Species: Iris giganticaerulea Small - giant blue iris

State Flowers
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Find images and a brief history of the flowers representing, usually by legislative action, the state symbols of each of the fifty states.
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