CPC Plant Profile: dwarfLake Iris
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Plant Profile

dwarfLake Iris (Iris lacustris)

This species occurs only on the northern shores of the Great Lakes and in a few openings in cedar/birch forests, as shown here in Door County, Wisconsin. Photo Credit: WI DNR
Description
  • Global Rank: N/A
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Iridaceae
  • State: CAN, MI, ON, WI
  • Nature Serve ID: 149152
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 03/14/1986

This miniature perennial iris has deep blue, sometimes lilac or white flowers (1 1/2 inches in width and 1 1/2-2 1/2 inches in height) that occur one flower per stem. Flowers appear from early May to early June, and have 3 petals with yellow crests. Stems are less than 2 inches tall. Leaves are 6 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. They are flattened, sword shaped, and come in fan shaped clusters. Although globally rare, this species can reproduce clonally from rhizomes, so where it is found it grows in thick patches. The species is self-compatible, but insects are needed to transport the pollen, and seed set is generally low. The few seeds produced are dispersed by ants.

Participating Institutions
Updates
  • 10/11/2020
  • Genetic Research

Dr. Gary L. Hannan, at Eastern Michigan University, has studied the reproductive biology and genetic diversity of this species. He found that I. Lacustris has very little genetic diversity compared to its more widespread relative, Iris cristata.

  • 10/11/2020
  • Reproductive Research

Dr. Gary L. Hannan, at Eastern Michigan University, has studied the reproductive biology and genetic diversity of this species. He found that I. Lacustris has very little genetic diversity compared to its more widespread relative, Iris cristata.

Dawn M. Gerlica and Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

Residential and shoreline development Road construction Recreational activities Chemical spraying Road salting Habitat succession Off-road vehicles (ORV's) Being sold as a commercial flower Picking (generally results in the flower being uprooted)

Dawn M. Gerlica and Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

At the time of federal listing in 1988, this species was found in about 60 sites in 10 counties on the northern shores of Lake Michigan and Huron. (USFWS 1988) Ninety five percent of the known populations of this species occur in Michigan (Chittenden & Carrington 1996).

Dawn M. Gerlica and Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

Dr. Gary L. Hannan, at Eastern Michigan University, has studied the reproductive biology and genetic diversity of this species. He found that I. Lacustris has very little genetic diversity compared to its more widespread relative, Iris cristata.

Dawn M. Gerlica and Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

None known.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Iris lacustris
Authority Nutt.
Family Iridaceae
CPC Number 2321
ITIS 43218
USDA IRLA
Common Names dwarfLake Iris | Lake Iris | dwarf lake iris
Associated Scientific Names Iris lacustris | Iris cristata ssp. lacustris | Iris cristata var. lacustris | Evansia lacustris
Distribution Around the Great Lakes; near the Northern Shores of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, in Michigan. Found in the states of: Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, and the province of Ontario (USFWS 1988).
State Rank
State State Rank
Canada N3
Michigan S3
Ontario S3
Wisconsin S2
Habitat

Found on the north shores of the Great Lakes, this species generally occurs near to the lakes' shorelines, as it is well adapted to the cool, moist lakeshore air there. Intolerant of full sun, you often find this species growing in sandy or gravelly soil in the partial shade of coniferous trees or the mesic areas at a forest's edge. (USFWS 1988)

Ecological Relationships

Seeds, when they are produced, bear a single, white, corkscrew-shaped appendage, called an eliaosome. These eliaosomes are energy-rich food sources for ants, who consequently are primarily responsible for dispersal of this specie's seed. (Chittenden and Carrington 1996)

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Bees
Sweat bees Augochlorella striata Floral Visitor Link
Bumble bees Bombus Confirmed Pollinator Link
Bees Confirmed Pollinator Link
Bees Confirmed Pollinator Link
Butterflies & Moths
Sphinx moths Hemaris affis Floral Visitor Link
Beetles
Rove beetles Rove Beetle Floral Visitor Link
Birds
Hummingbirds Hummingbirds Confirmed Pollinator Link

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