SLIssp logoGNOIS Logo

Preservation of the Louisiana iris species and Restoration in the wild

The Greater New Orleans Iris Society is heavily invested in the future of the native irises found throughout most of Louisiana.  Louisiana is unique in the number of species, their proximity, and the tendency for "hybrid zones" to produce diverse natural forms.  Four of the five species in the Series Hexagonae (the taxonomic group that encapsulates the "Louisiana irises") occur in Louisiana.  They are I. fulva, I. giganticaerulea, I. brevicaulis, and I. nelsonii

While three of these species are native to other states as well, their concentration within the State of Louisiana creates an obvious local responsibility when they are threatened. The destruction of wetlands and threats to the environment of Louisiana irises is a story told elsewhere, but the response of GNOIS has been to create and support projects that follow two tracks.  One is efforts to Preserve the different forms of each species, and the other is to help Restore irises in the wild.

These projects overlap both logically and in practice, but they also involve distinct work.  Each is explained more fully on separate pages.  Just follow the links for details.

 
Collage
Planting

 

The species I. hexagona, similar and possibly related to I. giganticaerulea is an East Coast native particularly numerous in Florida, but the species apparently is alone in the East and not accompanied by the four Louisiana natives that have created so much diversity and excitement about these irises.  When one thinks about the several thousand hybrid Louisiana irises that have become popular garden plants today, it is sobering to realize that the parentage of all but a handful are traceable entirely to plants collected in Louisiana.  Louisiana was where the natural diversity was found.

 

REFERENCES

For a general overview of the Louisiana iris species, see the Zydeco Louisiana Iris Garden species pages 

For information on the destruction of the habitat of Louisiana irises, see ....

Society for Louisiana Irises, The Louisiana Iris:  The Taming of a Native American Wildflower, 2nd ed., Timber Press, 2000, Chapter 1, "History of Louisiana Irises"