Dwarf Crested Iris Facts
- The somewhat descriptive term of Dwarf Crested Iris serves as the most frequently used of the common names for this beautiful plant species. The delicate marvel also goes another, closely related common name. That’s the simpler term of the crested iris.
- The official scientific name for this creation of Nature and evolution is the comparatively simple term of Iris cristata. Regardless of which term one use to refer to it, however, one fact remains consistent. That’s the fact that, while gorgeous, it’s tiny.
- Though not the first to note it, the Scottish botanist, William Aiton holds the distinction of making the first official recognition of the plant as a separate and distinct species. This scientifically noteable feat the renowned researcher accomplished in 1789.
- Though it had long been known to the Indigenous Peoples of its native region, the American botanist John Bartram became the first European botanist to notice it. In the 1750’s, he sent several specimens to England. It’s been present there since 1776.
- For the moment, the IUCN has no listing for the Dwarf Crested Iris. Any such listing would appear on the organization’s published Red List of Threatened Species. This occurs both due to its numbers in the wild, as well as in global cultivation.
- It nevertheless facing some potential threats. Due to this, it’s listed as Endangered is a few parts of its native range. Habitat loss naturally represents one of the dangers it faces. Its greatest threat, though, most likely comes in the form of climate change.
Dwarf Crested Iris Physical Description
The delicate beauty of the Dwarf Crested Iris certainly merits attention from those who encounter it, of course. That aspect of its biology, however, manifests despite what some might think a disadvantage. That’s due to the fact that this marvel stands quite short.
More precisely, the perennial plant packs all of its outstanding beauty in a package that only attains a maximum height of around 6 in (15 cm). An average height for this floral variety, however, measures about 4 in (10 cm). Some specimens do not exceed 3 in (7.6 cm).
The iris variety also produces numerous long, slender leaves, which present a moderately deep green color. This rather distinctive foliage further develops in a highly variable length. These leaves extend outward in lengths ranging from 4 – 16 in (10 – 40.6 in).
Each plant typically produces a single bloom, though two develop on rare occasions. Remarkably, the petals of these tiny, delicate blooms develop in a wide variety of shades. Its sepals, meanwhile, have a white or yellow, central band, with a purple stripe.
Of further note is the extreme range of the shades the petals of the Dwarf Crested Iris manifest. These, in facct, develop across the spectrum lying between blue to purple to white. This range further varies from individual plant to plant, with no apparent pattern.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Angiosperms
- Class: Monocots
- Order: Asparagales
- Family: Iridaceae
- Genus: Iris
- Species: I. cristata
Dwarf Crested Iris Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Unfortunately for those who appreciate its beauty in the wild, the Dwarf Crested Iris possesses a somewhat limited native range of distribution. That’s due to the fact that the diminutive beauty appears naturally in only a small portion of the Northern Hemisphere.
That range of habitation covers portions of a total of nineteen states in the United States, in North America. These states appear in the northeastern, north-central, and southeastern portions of the country. Evidence further indicates it never spread elsewhere.
Somewhat surprisingly, this tiny Angiosperm evolved as endemic to soil containing relatively high ratios of lime. Given this, the plant most often appears naturally in areas such as rocky hillsides, ravines, oak woodlands, mountain ledges, and along gentle streams.
These regions, however, also need to meet yet another condition for the plant to thrive. These conditions must include the specific site to be well drained. If excessive moisture remains in the local soil, the species does poorly, severely limiting its potential expansion.
Pollination of the Dwarf Crested Iris principally occurs due to the activities of several types of bees. Several varities of hummingbirds, though, also favor the flowering plant, finding its nectar especially appealing. In cultivation, it also reproduces via root division.
It further prefers areas of cool, partially shaded conditions, but also does reasonably well in direct sunlight. Its magnificent flowers typically appear in early Spring. Afterward, the plant most frequently goes dormant during the local Winter season.
Local Native American populations, especially the Cherokee, have long used it in traditional medicines. Caution must nevertheless be taken with the little beauty. That’s because, like related species, many parts of this wonder of evolution are moderately poisonous.