The Iridaceae are perennial herbs from rhizomes, bulbs or corms comprising about 80 genera and 1,500 species. The leaves are distichous and have a sheathing, equitant base and a generally ensiform or linear blade with parallel venation. The flowers are bisexual, usually showy, and are actinomorphic or zygomorphic. The perianth consists of 6 petaloid tepals in two differentiated or undifferentiated whorls. Commonly all 6 tepals are united into a perianth tube or epigynous zone. The androecium consists of 3 distinct or connate stamens positioned opposite and often adnate to the outer tepals. The gynoecium consists of a single compound pistil of 3 carpels, a single, commonly 3-branched style, and an inferior ovary with 3 locules, each containing few to numerous axile ovules. The fruit is a loculicidal capsule.

Each "thumbnail" image below is linked to a larger photograph.

Belamcanda chinensis, leopard flower. Notice the distichous, equitant, ensiform leaves. The lower photo shows perianth of 6, poorly differentiated petaloid tepals, 3 stamens, inferior ovary, and capsular fruit.
Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora, montbretia. This is a species with zygomorphic flowers. Note the petaloid tepals, 3 stamens, and inferior ovary.
Dietes bicolor, African iris. Low herbaceous ornamental from Africa with sword-like leaves in one plane.
Dietes iridioides, African iris. The outer tepals have a bright yellow spot and are opposite the petaloid style branches. The stigma is in the area of the notched tip of each branch. One stamen is directly under and hidden by each style branch. In the side view of a partly dissected flower (right photo), one of the stamens is visible, directly below one of the petaloid style branches. The inferior ovary is also clearly visible.
Freesia sp.
Gladiolus sp.
Iris chrysophylla, yellow-flowered iris, vic. Umpqua, OR, April, 2004.
Iris tenax, purple iris, 1,2 - vic. Alsea Falls, OR, 2002, 3 - vic. Roseburg, OR, April, 2004.
Neomarica caerulea, marica. The inner and outer tepals are strongly differentiated in this species. A greenish yellow stamen can be seen just outside 2 of the three fleshy white style branches.
Neomarica gracilis, walking iris, apostle plant.
Olsynium douglasii, grass widows, OR, Mar. 2004.
sis_acr_habs.jpg (13390 bytes) sis_acr_cus.jpg (8275 bytes) sis_acr_chls.jpg (8307 bytes)
Sisyrinchium acre, mau'u la'ili, mau'u ho'ula i'ili, Hawaiian endemic.
Sisyrinchium angustifolium, narrowleaf blue-eyed grass, vic. Cheney, WA, 1986.
Trimezia martinicensis, trimeza. Ornamental herb from the West Indies with blade-like leaves folded lengthwise and clasping the stem. Note one stamen associated with each of the style branches.
Schizostylis coccinea, kaffir lily.  UBC Botanic Garden, Vancouver.

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