Flag Iris as an Artist Material

How do you identify Flag Iris?

Flag Iris

Flag Iris

Height and Stem: Up to 1.5m in height. Stems are green, hard, oval shaped stems support flowering and fruiting bodies.
Leaves: Narrow, flat, erect, and pointed at tip, arising in a fan like cluster from base of plant. Dark green and numerous.
Flower and Fruit: Flowers large, showy, and yellow. Sometimes have brown to purple veins at base of petals. Seed pods green, large (up to 8cm long), and numerous, arising from top and side of stems. Large 3-angled fruit capsules containing rows of numerous flattened brown seeds that float.

Where does it grow?
Grows in a variety of fertile, low-lying wetland habitats, including river banks, ponds, lakes and marshes (both freshwater and saltwater).

Part(s) Collected
Leaves, flowers and roots.

How do you harvest Flag Iris and when?
Remove entire rhizome root system with leaves and flowers (i.e., late spring to late summer). Re-visit sites in subsequent seasons, if intent is to terminate its spread. Minimize disturbance during removal.

Braided Flag Iris Basket

Braided Flag Iris Basket

Weaving techniques good for:
The leaves can be used for braiding or coiling and produces a green dye, the roots for a black or brown dye, and the flowers for a yellow dye.

Gathering and Storing:
Wear gloves and appropriate clothing. All plant parts are poisonous because of the resinous substances in the leaves and rhizomes which can cause skin irritation. Dry the leaves in bunches handing from a clothes line or from pegs on a wall. When dry, the leaves are less irritating to the skin.

Leaves do not need much soaking in lukewarm water before starting a weaving project. Leaves may be rinsed in the shower or bathtub to soften enough to bend and put in a small bucket. Once leaves have been soaked they can be split into various widths before braiding or twisted together to resemble rope for coiling.

Disposal issues
Leaves and root rhizomes should be discarded in garbage after removal or use. If using, it’s best to dry and keep away from wet soils as Flag Iris can re-root from rhizome cuttings/pieces. Place flower, seeds, and rhizomes in a sturdy bag and dispose of in garbage or through burning. The seeds in the seed bank can re-sprout from disturbed areas where removal of rhizomes has occurred or in the compost pile.

Additional Notes:
Greg Ferguson, SPES Stewardship Program Coordinator
Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES) – History of invasive plant management in Stanley Park.  Management of invasive plant species by SPES in Stanley Park started in 2004 through the establishment of the Ivy Busters program. In 2011, SPES re-mapped the invasive plant species in Stanley Park with funding from the Vancouver Park Board (VPB) and help of volunteers. The VPB also supports SPES with tools and the pick-up and disposal of invasive plant material removed.

Related websites links


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