Dwarf lake iris

Iris lacustris

Common Name: Dwarf lake iris

  • Short-stemmed plants, topped with bluish-purple flowers.
  • The state flower of Michigan!
  • Listed as a threatened species at the federal and state level.
  • Flowers in late May and early June.

Native or Invasive: Native perennial

Characteristics: Stems are short continuations of the scaly rhizomes. Leaves are long and strap shaped (longer than wide) and are about 1.5-2.5 inches long at flowering and up to 7 inches long after flowering. They grow on tan to orange-colored rhizomes that can be found all year. There are many hundreds of plants in a colony. They naturally reproduce through both pollination (and setting seed) and the fracturing of its rhizomes, which can be carried by waves to another location to start a new colony.

Habitat: Gravelly shores and damp meadows.

Fun Fact: The bright flowers add a nice punch of color to the northern shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron and inspired the plant’s scientific name. Iris means “rainbow” and lacustris means “of the lakes.”

Ethnobotanical Uses: None known. However, other irises have been used to treat stomachaches and were also used to make cords and fishing nets.

Adapted from Guide to Great Lakes Coastal Plants, by Ellen Elliott Weatherbee, University of Michigan Press.