Iris bracteata

Iris bracteata

Partial shade in well-drained moist to semi dry soil.

Description and Distribution:
Native to a small region in Southwestern Oregon and Northern California.

Upright stem sprouting from small rhizomes with few roots and forming small compact clumps. The basal yellow green leaves are evergreen, long and narrow with a pink to red base. The inflorescence is composed of 1-2 large showy flowers, with wide spreading pale yellow or creamy white sepals having prominent dark reddish brown veins with a splash of vivid yellow along the center and turning downwards. Petals are pale yellow with no markings. Flowering time is mid spring.

Described and named by Sereno Watson, for the characteristic short, overlapping, bract-like leaves along the stem. It is worth taking time out to read a brief summary of this man’s work. Sereno Watson was born in 1826, and was raised on a farm in Connecticut. He graduated from Yale in 1847 and pursued a variety of occupations — teaching school, studying medicine, working in brother’s insurance company, doing editorial work for Dr. Henry Barnard. He returned to Yale and studied chemistry and mineralogy from 1866 to 1867. He went to California and, after a while, joined Clarence King’s Expedition, which was carrying out a geological survey of the 40th parallel. Although he had no prior botanical training, Watson wrote the Botany of the King Expedition published 1871. Watson’s botanical report is considered among the best of the survey expedition reports, owing in part to the careful notes on habitat made by Watson in the field. Asa Gray was much impressed with his work, and in 1873 appointed Watson an assistant in the Gray Herbarium. Watson’s term as curator lasted until his death in 1892.

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Posted on

January 23, 2018