Douglas Iris

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When visiting Point Reyes National Seashore I often encounter this common wildflower of the coastal and central regions of Northern and Central California.

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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.

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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.

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The flowers are intricately patterned with nectar guidelines for potential pollinators, such as bees and butterflies.

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The Douglas Iris’ sword-shaped leaves overlap and can reach over one foot long, rising from underground stems called rhizomes.

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“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.

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