Western Iris

Common Name(s): Western Iris, Rocky Mountain Iris, Western Blue-Flag, Missouri Iris
Scientific Name: Iris missouriensis
Size (height) English & Metric: 12-24" (30-62cm)
Habitat: Open, moist grassy meadows
Flowering Season (for Bryce region): May - July
Range: Great Plains to Colorado Plateau

General Description:
This flower prefers moist soils. It has very charismatic blue to violet flowers with a bit of deep yellow running down the center of each flower petal. The leaves are sword-like.

Poison Symbol, indicating that the Missouri Iris is toxic to humans and animals.

Plant Lore:
This plant is almost as deadly as it is beautiful. The leaves have a high concentration of irisin, which is a chemical that, if ingested, is poisonous to livestock and people alike. Symptoms can become as extreme as to include severe and simultaneous vomiting and diarrhea.

Although the specific name missouriensis means "from Missouri", the plant is not found in the state of Missouri. Rather, it was likely named by Lewis and Clark after the region of the upper reaches of the Missouri River of the Rocky Mountains for which it was first discovered.

When and where to see at Bryce:
This flower can be found in large groups in open, moist grassy meadows in the mid to higher elevations of the park and surrounding countryside. In drought years, try the area around the nearby Tropic Reservoir.

Further Reading:
Buchanan, Hayle 1992. Wildflowers of Southwestern Utah. Bryce Canyon Natural History Association. Bryce Canyon, Utah.


Last updated: February 24, 2015

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Bryce, UT 84764


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