Iridaceae (Iris Family)
A family of perennial herbs, represented here by two genera. The leaves are equitant, parallel veined, and linear or sword-shaped. The inflorescence is subtended by two spathelike bracts. Flowers have six petal-like parts (tepals) in two series. The ovary is inferior, below the tepals, and the fruit is a capsule.
Iris missouriensisNutt. Wild Iris. (Plate 6.104) Plants spreading by rhizomes; stems 8–20 in (20–50 cm) high. Leaves are narrow, up to 1/4 in (6 mm) wide and 18 in (4.5 dm) long, all basal. The showy flowers are terminal, one or two on a stem, the tissuelike spathe bracts 1 1/2–2 1/2 in (4–6 cm) long. The three spreading outer tepals are broadly oblanceolate, 2–2 1/2 in (5–6 cm) long; the erect inner tepals are narrower. Mature seed capsules are ridged, up to 2 in (5 cm) long. Flower: Lavender or light blue to white, all with purplish veins.
Distribution. Common, moist meadows; Desert Scrub and Pinyon-juniper Woodland, 6,000–9,000 ft (1,829–2,744 m). An abundance of iris in a meadow indicates overgrazing.
Sisyrinchium idahoenseBickn. Idaho Blue-eyed Grass. (Plate 6.105) Stems 4–16 in tall, mostly leafless. Basal leaves are narrow, grasslike, and shorter than the stems. Flowers are terminal, several on a stem, their very slender, hairless pedicels issuing from unequal green spathe bracts. The six tepals are equal, about 3/8 in (1 cm) long, spreading. Flower: Blue-violet to deep violet-purple.
Distribution. Common, wet meadows and stream banks; Desert Scrub and Pinyon-juniper Woodland, 6,000–9,000 ft (1,829–2,744 m). Other species of Sisyrinchium can be expected at lower elevations. Their general appearance is much the same.