Species Iris Group of North America

What's An Iris? What's SIGNA? Seed Exchange
Publications* Species Database Spec-X IOTM
Different Types of Iris:

With around 280 species, Irises flourish in many climates all over the northern hemisphere, from deserts to mountains to swamps to forests, beaches, and grasslands. The diversity of the genus is quite impressive. To explore it let's split up the species into three groups based upon their flower type: bearded, crested, and beardless.

Bearded iris species are found from central Europe to central Asia southward to the Arabian peninsula. Some of the Asian species are distinct from European species in that they inhabit harsh arid climates and their seeds possess a unique sugary structure called an aril. These aril species are so popular amongst hobbyists that nearly 75 years ago the Aril Society International was formed. European bearded irises have always been popular with an abundance of fan clubs all around the world including Dwarf Iris Society, Median Iris Society, and Tall Bearded Iris Society.

Crested iris species are similar to bearded irises, but they come from an entirely different range & climate. These species are from mild to temperate woodlands of eastern Asia and parts of North America. There are only a few species in this group and some of them are extremely popular. I. tectorum is known as the Japanese roof iris but it actually comes from southern China. I. cristata is an extremely popular woodland wildflower in Eastern North America. I. confusa is popular for producing tall flower spikes that bloom for weeks.

Beardless iris species are found everywhere from Portugal & northern Africa, northward and eastward across Europe and Asia, to Japan, Alaska, all the way across Canada to the east coast, and southward across the whole of the United States. Beardless irises have become tremendously popular and hybridizers are producing new forms to rival the size & beauty of the bearded irises. Just take a look at some of these Pacific Coast, Siberian, and Louisiana irises:

[Continue reading more about the Genus Iris...]

Iris beard photo by Dennis Kramb. Iris crest photo by Dennis Kramb. Iris signal, beardless, photo by Dennis Kramb. PCN seedling photo by Bill Dijk. Siberian iris 'Solary Energy' photo by Joe Pye Weed's Garden. Louisiana iris 'All Fired Up' photo by Heather Pryor.

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* Some important new updates were added January 2024 indicated by the asterisk in the header. Please check them out!