Dwarf Lake Iris: Michigan’s State Wildflower

Dwarf Lake Iris

Dwarf Lake Iris, photo by Mark Swanson

The Michigan DNR relates that Michigan’s state wildflower, the Dwarf Lake Iris (Iris lacustris): grows nowhere else but in the Great Lakes region, and most within Michigan’s boundaries:

In Michigan, Dwarf Lake Iris is especially concentrated along certain stretches of the northern Great Lakes shoreline, where it may occur for miles, interrupted only by habitat destruction, degradation, or unsuitable habitat such as rocky points or marshy bays.

Dwarf Lake Iris usually occurs close to the Great Lakes shores on sand or in thin soil over limestone rich gravel or bedrock. It tolerates full sun to near complete shade, but flowers mostly in semi open habitats. These areas can be very long and narrow strips bordering the high water line, or large flat expanses located behind the open dunes of the Great Lakes shoreline. Many iris locations are on old beach ridges of former shores of the Great Lakes. Fluctuating water levels of the Great Lakes play a vital role in opening up new habitat for Dwarf Lake Iris. During high water years, trees and shrubs along the shoreline may be flooded out. This flooding may open up patches within the forest where the Dwarf Lake Iris may spread. It is usually found growing under White Cedar, although White Spruce, Balsam Fir, and Aspen are also frequently present.

…”Lacustris” translates literally to mean “of lakes” and refers to where this beautiful iris grows. Dwarf Lake Iris was first found on Mackinac Island in 1810 by Thomas Nuttall, a renowned naturalist and explorer. Nuttall reached Mackinac Island after travelling from Detroit by canoe with French Canadian voyagers and the surveyor for the Michigan Territory. At least 1/3 of the species that Nuttall reported from the Great Lakes were new to science.

Read on for much more.

Mark took this along the hiking trail in Riverview Park in St. Joseph. View it bigger and see more in his Michigan – Color slideshow.

More Michigan flowers on Michigan in Pictures.

One thought on “Dwarf Lake Iris: Michigan’s State Wildflower

  1. Ours have grown in big pots but sadly last night strong winds blue all the delicate Iris tops off and they were very much the same colours as your fears kind regards Chris in Cheshire UK.will see if any neighbour has got a photo governs to you

    Like

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