Friday, June 20, 2014

A wild iris

Iris, Most Beautiful Flower
Iris, most beautiful flower,
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,

Edith Buckner Edwards

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.


Auralee said...

Thank you for gracing my morning with a lovely poem and photograph. I just bought a book you might enjoy, "Bright Wings--an illustrated anthology of Poems About Birds." Illustrator, David Allen Sibley.

Auralee said...

By the way, if you're near Toledo before July 6, there's an exibit at the TMA that includes some original Roger Tory Peterson warbler paintings (including Cerulean!) and others by Sibley, Wilson, Audubon, others. Seeing RTP paintings, originals! Really cool.

"In Fine Feather highlights the intersection of natural science and art in the pursuit of describing and identifying birds, from a medieval treatise on falconry to John James Audubon’s Birds of America to the modern field guide. The exhibition features works by noted bird artists and illustrators including Audubon, Alexander Wilson, John Gould and Roger Tory Peterson. Free admission."

Rosyside Dace, in nuptial colors

From L to R, Phil Melillo, Kelly Capuzzi, John Howard, and your narrator inspect a mess of fish hauled from a small stream in southern Ohi...