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Neomarica caerulea.jpg
Neomarica caerulea
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Iridaceae
Subfamily: Iridoideae
Genus: Neomarica
Type species
Neomarica northiana
(Schneevogt) Sprague

Neomarica (walking iris, apostle's iris or apostle plant – names also used for the related genus Trimezia) is a genus of plants in family Iridaceae, first described in 1928. It is native to Mexico, Central and South America, and Trinidad & Tobago.[1][2][3][4]

The genus name is derived from the Greek words neo, meaning "new", and Marica, the Roman nymph.[5]


They are herbaceous perennial plants that propagate by way of a thick rhizome and new plantlets that develop from the stem where flowers once emerged. The plants grow erect, and have long slender lanceolate leaves from 30–160 cm long and 1–4 cm broad, depending on the species. They produce very fragrant flowers that last for a short period of time, often only 18 hours.

The flowers emerge from what appears to be just another leaf, but is really a flower stalk structured to look like the other leaves; they are 5–10 cm diameter, and somewhat resemble Iris flowers. After pollination, the new plantlet appears where the flower emerged and the stalk continues to grow longer. The weight of the growing plantlet causes the stalk to bend toward the ground, allowing the new plantlet to root away from its parent. This is how it obtained the common name of "Walking Iris". The other common name "Apostle Plant" comes from the belief that the plant will not flower until the individual has at least 12 leaves, the number of apostles of Jesus.


Neomarica is placed in the tribe Trimezieae, along with the genera Trimezia, Pseudotrimezia and Pseudiris.[6] Neomarica is similar to the genus Trimezia; the same common names are used for both genera. Morphological characters that have been used to distinguish the two include the flower stalk (scape): in Neomarica it is flattened and leaf-like whereas in Trimezia it is circular in cross-section.[7] (See Trimezia: Distinction from Neomarica.) However, molecular phylogenetic studies have not upheld any of the genera within the tribe Trimezieae; three of the four main clades found combine species from more than one genus.[6]

Neomarica northiana
  1. Neomarica altivallis (Ravenna) A.Gil - Espírito Santo in Brazil
  2. Neomarica brachypus (Baker) Sprague - Trinidad
  3. Neomarica caerulea (Ker Gawl.) Sprague (Brazilian Iris, Twelve Apostles) - Paraguay, Brazil; naturalized in Central America + Bioko
  4. Neomarica candida (Hassl.) Sprague - Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, southern Brazil
  5. Neomarica capitellata (Ravenna) Chukr - Minas Gerais
  6. Neomarica caulosa (Ravenna) Chukr - Bahia in Brazil
  7. Neomarica decora (Ravenna) A.Gil - São Paulo
  8. Neomarica decumbens (Ravenna) A.Gil - São Paulo
  9. Neomarica fluminensis (Ravenna) Chukr - Rio de Janeiro
  10. Neomarica glauca (Seub. ex Klatt) Sprague - southern Brazil
  11. Neomarica gracilis (Herb.) Sprague - Paraguay, Brazil
  12. Neomarica humilis (Klatt) Capell. - Brazil, Venezuela
  13. Neomarica imbricata (Hand.-Mazz.) Sprague - southern Brazil
  14. Neomarica itatiaica (Ravenna) A.Gil - Rio de Janeiro
  15. Neomarica latifolia (Ravenna) A.Gil - Paraná in Brazil
  16. Neomarica longifolia (Link & Otto) Sprague - southern Brazil
  17. Neomarica northiana (Schneev.) Sprague (Walking Stick Plant) - southern Brazil; naturalized in Hawaii, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Peru
  18. Neomarica paradoxa (Ravenna) Chukr - Maranhão
  19. Neomarica pardina (Ravenna) A.Gil - Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro
  20. Neomarica portosecurensis (Ravenna) Chukr - Bahia in Brazil
  21. Neomarica rigida (Ravenna) Capell. - southern Brazil
  22. Neomarica rotundata (Ravenna) Chukr - Paraná
  23. Neomarica rupestris (Ravenna) Chukr - Minas Gerais
  24. Neomarica sabini (Lindl.) Chukr - eastern Brazil
  25. Neomarica silvestris (Vell.) Chukr - southern Brazil
  26. Neomarica unca (Ravenna) A.Gil - Bahia
  27. Neomarica variegata (M.Martens & Galeotti) Henrich & Goldblatt - Central America, central + southern Mexico
  28. Neomarica warmingii (Klatt) Sprague - Minas Gerais

Cultivation and uses[edit]

Some Neomarica species such as N. northiana, N. longifolia, and N. caerulea are common ornamental plants that are easily cultivated both in gardens in subtropical and tropical regions, and as houseplants in temperate areas.


  1. ^ a b Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ Innes, C. (1985). The World of Iridaceae: 1-407. Holly Gare International Ltd., Ashington.
  3. ^ Espejo Serna, A. & López-Ferrari, A.R. (1996). Monocotiledóneas Mexicanas: una sinopsis florística 6: 43-59. Mexico City : Consejo Nacional de la Flora de Mexico.
  4. ^ Chukr, N.S.; Giuliettu, A.M. (2001). "New combinations in the genus Neomarica and its segregation from Trimezia on the basis of morphological features". Novon. 11: 376–380. doi:10.2307/3393147.
  5. ^ Manning, John; Goldblatt, Peter (2008), The Iris Family: Natural History & Classification, Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, pp. 229–32, ISBN 0-88192-897-6
  6. ^ a b Lovo, Juliana; Winkworth, Richard C. & Mello-Silva, Renato (2012), "New insights into Trimezieae (Iridaceae) phylogeny: what do molecular data tell us?", Annals of Botany, 110 (3): 689–702, doi:10.1093/aob/mcs127, PMC 3400455, PMID 22711695
  7. ^ Chukr, Nadia Said & Giulietti, Ana Maria (2001), "New combinations in the genus Neomarica (Iridaceae) and its segregation from Trimezia on the basis of morphological features", Novon, 11 (4): 376–380, doi:10.2307/3393147, retrieved 2012-05-07