Of the fifteen or so Iris that are native to the whole of the west coast, seven are at home here in Oregon. Most grow in colorful drifts in primarily open wooded areas at low elevations west of the Cascades.
The flowers, rising gracefully above the foliage on slender stems, wear colors ranging from deep bluish purple to lavender to yellow to white (or varying combinations of these), generally with dark purple veining. Iris freely cross-pollinates in areas where two or more species grow adjacent to each other and naturally-occurring hybrids occur.
The Siskiyou Iris is found in southern Oregon to Del Norte County, California in open Pine woods, so tolerant of partial sun and drier conditions. Flowers are cream to golden yellow with dark purple-red veining. Photo credit: Colin Rigby / Society for Pacific Coast Native Iris.
The Yellow Leaf Iris is found in southern Oregon into northern California; grow in more sun with moderate water. Flowers are pale yellow to white, with distinctive dark purple veining. Photo credit: Elyse Hill / Society for Pacific Coast Native Iris.
Douglas’ Iris is the only evergreen native iris – found on the coast from southern Oregon to central California. Can tolerate sun or shade and somewhat drier conditions than its brethren. Flower color ranges from light blue-violet to dark purple, occasionally white.
The Golden Iris is found in higher elevations in the Siskyous of southwestern Oregon, in open meadows and pine/fir forests with good drainage. Flowers are generally a rich yellow with purple veining though sometimes with hints of lavender. Photo credit: Colin Rigby / Society for Pacific Coast Native Iris.
The Western Blue Flag is wide ranging along the higher elevations east of the Cascades, covering large areas in sub-alpine and alpine meadows where there exists shallow ground water. Flowers are typically a beautiful blend of sky blue and white. 12-18” tall.
The Clackamas Iris is only example of a “crested” Iris in the western US, Iris tenuis is only found sporadically along the Clackamas and Molalla rivers in western Oregon, and in sporadic patches near Mt. Hood. This dwarf Iris blooms light blue to white, with light purple veins and yellow ridges on the sepals.
The Oregon Iris is probably our most common Iris, Iris tenax is widespread west of the Cascades in open wooded areas and on hillsides. Flower color can range from blue to purple, though occasionally can be yellow to white. Tough leaf fibers can be used to make rope.
Pacific Coast Iris Hybrids – In the wild many of the native Iris species growing in the same area will cross-pollinate and naturally hybridize. Some of these combinations result in beautiful color variations and combinations. Naturally-occurring hybrids can sometimes be found in nurseries, and are often of unknown color until blooming.
Named selections of Pacific Coast Hybrids have been chosen and propagated for predictable color.
Special thanks to the Society for Pacific Coast Native Iris for use of their information and photographs. For more information, please visit the Pacific Coast Native Iris Website.
We offer a great selection of Northwest Natives from spring through fall. The plants featured are highlighted favorites, but they do not represent ALL of the plants we carry. For a more complete list, see our Northwest Native Plant List.