Douglas Iris

(Iris douglasiana)
Douglas Iris
Douglas Iris blooms on the coastal bluffs.

Will Elder, NPS


Origin Of Genus Name: Iris is the Greek goddess of the rainbow.

Presidio Locations: Found in serpentine grasslands, serpentine chaparral, coastal prairie and the understory of cultural plantation.

Range In State: Coastal ranges north of Santa Barbara. The Presidio is the type locality for this species.

Description: This native perennial species has dark lavender to deep reddish purple flowers. The flowers have three sepals, three petals and three stamens. Douglas Iris, also called lavendel, has leathery, dark green, grass-like leaves that sprout from a snake-like root called a rhizome. Blooms March to July.

California Native Uses: Douglas Iris is known to be one of the most important sources of rope and basket-making fiber in northern California for a large number of tribes. Coast Miwok have used Douglas Iris to make a tea that induces vomiting. The Pomo and the Klamath have used fibers from the edges of leaves to make a strong rope. The strands on the edges have been removed and cleaned with a sharp oblong tool made from abalone shell fastened to the thumb. This process was extremely time-consuming: a twelve foot long rope took nearly six weeks to make.

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Last updated: February 28, 2015

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