Iris brevicaulis is the most diminutive of the Louisiana iris species. Its flowers open down in the foliage, and sometimes its stalks lean or even lie on the ground. This iris has an excellent, zigzag stalk that lets its flowers open cleanly, and it often has more flower substance than the other species.
Brevicaulis requires moisture, but it is the most upland of the Louisiana irises. You won't find it in standing water, at least not for an extended period, but it may well be in muck. Brevicaulis is a late blooming iris that occurs not just along the Gulf Coast, but, like Iris fulva, well up into the Mississippi Valley states of Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois and Ohio. In fact, I. brevicaulis is found, although endangered, in Ontario,Canada.
Brevicaulis more than holds its own in importance and is thought to contribute both good form and cold hardiness to hybrids. It has been used extensively in developing modern cultivars, particularly by Arkansas hybridizers such as the trail-blazing Frank Chowning and the incomparable Richard Morgan. Chowning's 'Black Gamecock', indisputably the most widely grown Louisiana iris in northern states, shows strong brevicaulis influence. Iris brevicaulis is a workhorse if not the show horse among the Louisiana iris species.
I. brevicaulis is sometimes referred to by the common names ZigZag iris and Lamance iris.
For additional pictures and information on Iris brevicaulis, check out these links:
Rodney Barton's Iris Brevicaulis page
Dennis Kramb's Iris Brevicaulis Page
Iris Brevicaulis in Ohio: Tom Arbour's Blog. Documentation of brevicaulis in north central Ohio, not far from Lake Erie.
Ohio DNR reports the status of I. brevicaulis Just text but it suggests that brevicaulis is infrequent but widespread in Ohio.
Missouri Botanical Garden
Flora of North America
Tennessee Vascular Plants Atlas
Endangered in Ontario, Canada. This link on the Nature Conservancy of Canada website documents brevicaulis on Pelee Island in Lake Eirie. The island is between Ohio and Ontario but on the Canada side of the border. Ontario dips pretty far south, and this location is actually south of Detroit.
Margaret Stones' Watercolor. Zoom in to see the beautiful detail.