Random Plant: Harlequin blueflag

South shore of Losee Lake. Photographed 06/09/2012 at Pinckney State Recreation Area, Michigan.

While hiking the Losee Lake Trail at the Pinckney State Recreation Area here in Michigan, I found a lot of harlequin blueflag (Iris versicolor, Iridaceae) growing along the water. The large, showy flowers of this native plant were definite attention-getters:

Harlequin blueflag (Iris versicolor, Iridaceae). Photographed 06/09/2012 at Pinckney State Recreation Area, Michigan.

Harlequin blueflag is more than just a pretty flower, however.  This plant grows dense root structures that excel at trapping and removing many pollutants from the soil. When planted in vegetative filter strips along waterways, it can greatly reduce the amount of pesticide runoff that can contaminate reservoirs and other bodies of water (Smith et al. 2008).  As a component of constructed wetland buffers, it can also help in the removal of fecal coliform bacteria and other contaminants (Zaimoglu 2006).

Literature cited:

Smith K.E., R.A. Putnam, C. Phaneuf, G.R. Lanza, O.P. Dhankher, and J.M. Clark. 2008. Selection of plants for optimization of vegetative filter strips treating runoff from turfgrass. Journal of Environmental Quality 37(5):1855-61.

Zaimoglu, Z. 2006. Treatment of campus wastewater by a pilot-scale constructed wetland utilizing Typha latifolia, Juncus acutus and Iris versicolor. Journal of Environmental Biology 27(2):293-298.


About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Ecology, Random Plant and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Random Plant: Harlequin blueflag

  1. tamara says:

    I like irises, but didn’t know how effective they are-thanks for sharing!


  2. Jeremy Sell says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed it. One reason why I do this blog is because it gives me a reason to research things I find. I’m often amazed at what I discover, and love sharing it with others.


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