Symbol of life, love, and light;
Found by the brook, and the meadow,
Or lofty, on arable height.
You come in such glorious colors,
In hues, the rainbow surpass;
The chart of color portrays you,
In petal, or veins, of your class.
You bloom with the first in Winter,
With the last, in the Fall, you still show;
You steal the full beauty of Springtime,
With your fragrance and sharp color glow.
Your form and beauty of flower,
An artist's desire of full worth;
So Iris, we love you and crown you,
MOST BEAUTIFUL FLOWER ON EARTH!
I don't know if I could fully concur with Ms. Edwards' "most beautiful flower" sentiments, but the genus Iris will certainly place on the podium. Irises are indeed stunning, and the species above is especially noteworthy. It is the leafy blue flag, Iris brevicaulis, which is listed as a threatened species in Ohio.
Last weekend, Daniel Boone and I made a trip into some swampy river bottom habitats in western Ohio, and one of our rewards was this plant. The iris was a "life plant" for Boone, who ticks off flora like birders list birds. A major difference is that Boone's year lists are far larger than most birders, totalling well over a thousand species.
In spite of all his travels, and all of the plants that Dan has seen, the leafy blue flag had evaded his net. Not only did we fix that situation, but went on to find many other botanical highlights in habitats largely shunned by explorers, at least in summer's heat (and clouds of mosquitoes). I'll hope to put the full pictorial story of our trek up here soon.