When visiting Point Reyes National Seashore I often encounter this common wildflower of the coastal and central regions of Northern and Central California.
The Douglas Iris was first described by 19th century botanist David Douglas Scottish who traveled through the American Northwest collecting a variety of plants. He also has the Douglas Fir named after him.
In Spring, large clumps of iris with flowers ranging from cream to deep purple bloom in grasslands along the coast, and in the deep shade of coastal forests.
The flowers are intricately patterned with nectar guidelines for potential pollinators, such as bees and butterflies.
The Douglas Iris’ sword-shaped leaves overlap and can reach over one foot long, rising from underground stems called rhizomes.
“Back in the day,” Native Americans in California extracted a single fiber from each leaf margin and used it to create strong silky fibers for fishing nets, rope and snares for catching game.