Paul Smiths VIC -- Adirondack Wildflowers | Blue Flag Iris blooming in Heron Marsh (14 June 2012)

Adirondack Wildflowers:
Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor)

Paul Smiths VIC -- Adirondack Wildflowers | Blue Flag Iris on Heron Marsh (14 June 2012)Adirondack Wildflowers: Blue Flag Iris blooming on Heron Marsh (14 June 2012)

Blue Flag Iris is a showy native iris of the Adirondacks and other northeastern wetlands. It flowers during late spring and early summer, producing several violet-blue flowers. The down-curved violet sepals are veined in yellow and white. The flowers are 2.5 to 4 inches wide. The plant is 2-3 feet tall with long, narrow leaves (1/2 to 1 inch wide) of bluish green.

This plant is also called Northern Blue Flag, Larger Blue Flag, Harlequin Blueflag, and Wild Iris. The name flag is from the middle English word "flagge," meaning rush or reed. Iris flowers are said to symbolize power, with the three parts representing wisdom, faith and courage.

Blue Flag Iris plants are pollinated by bees and, like other plant species pollinated by bees, have evolved special types of flowers that are easy for bees to find. The Blue Flag Iris has large lobes that bees use as landing platforms and special markings directing bees to the nectar glands.

Blue Flag flourishes in swamps, marshes, and wet shorelines throughout the north woods region. Its distribution includes Canada and the northern part of the US, south to Virginia.

In the past, Blue Flag was a popular medicinal plant among North American Indian tribes. Although Blue Flag Iris is poisonous, Native Americans and colonists dried the rhizome of the plant and used it in small amounts as a cathartic and diuretic. In addition, some North American Indian tribes reportedly used the two outermost fibers of the leaves to spin twine. Powdered iris root has also been added to perfume and potpourri.

Paul Smiths VIC -- Adirondack Wildflowers | Blue Flag Iris blooming on Heron Marsh (14 June 2012)Adirondack Wildflowers: Blue Flag Iris blooming on Heron Marsh (14 June 2012)

Blue Flag Iris grows in Heron Marsh at the Paul Smiths VIC, where it usually begins blooming in June.

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Explore the VIC

The Paul Smiths VIC offers a wide variety of programs throughout the year to educate and inform Adirondack Park residents and visitors about the natural wonders of the Adirondack Mountains. You can help support these programs by joining the Friends of the VIC. More information on Friends of the VIC memberships

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The VIC trails are free and open to the public, from dawn to dusk, spring through fall. In winter, the trails are open to cross-country skiers and snowshoers for a fee. Day or season passes may be purchased.