Wide-leaved Iris - Iris planifolia
by Tony Hall
The earliest flowering of all of the Irises in Andalucía,it is the only Juno iris (having a fleshy bulb and roots)that is native in Europe. This pretty, small,bulbous perennial is in the family Iridaceae.Itgrows to a height of approximately 10-15cm. The leaves are up to 3cm wide and relatively flat (planifolia is Greek for flat leaved) with a grooved centre, pointed and usually recurved.
Each individual plant has up to three flowers, with the individual flowers borne on short stalks.These are large in relation to the size of plant, around 8-12cm across. The flower colour varies with many shades of blue, from dark blue-violet, to pale blues and very occasionally white, although this is quite rare. The falls (lower parts of theouter petals) have a bright-yellow or orange central crest, and white and blue veining. They are recurved at their tips and the upright petals, (the standard) are plain blue.
Iris planifolia's habitat varies from rocky hillsides and shale in the mountains, to flat grassy lowland fields, where the plants enjoy plenty of winter moisture (I have seen them growing in very wet heavy soils).But the area must dry out during the summer. They can be sometimes be found growing in their thousands, particularly in lowland areas.
Flowering from late December - March.
Tony Hall, Manager of the Arboretum and Gardens at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, specialising in the plants of Andalucía.