Blue Flag

Blue Flag or Wild IrisThe ponds at Audubon are decorated with Blue Flag (Iris versicolor).  According to Earl Rook, it goes by many other common names, including American Blue Flag, Dagger Flower, Dragon Flower, Flag Lily, Harlequin Blueflag, Liver Lily, Poison Flag, Snake Lily, Water Flag , and Water Iris (whew!) and it is the only native iris in “the North Country.”

Whatever the name, I love it and am always so delighted to see it blooming.

The listing in Peterson’s Guide to Edible Wild Plants warns:

Do not confuse the rootstocks of the irises with those of Sweetflag or Cattail; all irises are poisonous.

Curiously, Peterson’s Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs lists several uses for the plant.  It also, however, contains a strong warning and a long list of unpleasant potential reactions.

Blue Flag Iris Closeup

Blue Flag Distribution Map at eFlorasIt spreads both by seeds and by rhizomes, so can be found singly or in fairly large numbers.  It likes wet feet, so look for it along the edges of ponds and lakes, or in soggy spots that stay wet through early summer.

It’s really quite stunning.  You should find time to go to Audubon for a walk!  But hurry.  My field guide says it only blooms May through July.

Learn more:

I was messing around with my 10X macro lens that screws onto the front of my kit lens.  I zoomed way back to get this shot:

Blue Flag - Interesting

The black around the edges, I assume, is actually the inside of the lens…  I like the way the iris itself looks – the crisp focus and the depth of field… but I wish I had taken a few minutes to arrange the background to be less distracting…  I’ll have to experiment more with that.  (Usually I zoom way in when using this lens.)

Here’s a photo from last year:

Blue Flag Field