Iris tenax

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Iris tenax
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Iridaceae
Genus: Iris
Subgenus: Iris subg. Limniris
Section: Iris sect. Limniris
Series: Iris ser. Californicae
I. tenax
Binomial name
Iris tenax
Iris tenax growing in the chaparral and riparian of Engels Creek near Thunder Mountain Rd. Glide, Oregon, Douglas County

Iris tenax is a species of Iris, known by the common names tough-leaved iris, Oregon iris, or more colloquially, flag.


It is native to southwestern Washington, western Oregon, and northwestern California. It occurs along roadsides and in grasslands and forest openings at low to middle elevations. The subspecies Iris tenax ssp. klamathensis is endemic to northern California in the Klamath Mountains.[2][3]


Like many irises, Iris tenax has large and showy flowers. The flowers bloom in mid to late spring and are usually lavender-blue to purple, but blooms in white, yellow, pink, and orchid shades are known to sometimes occur.

The leaves are very slender for an iris, seldom over 5 mm broad; the plant is often mistaken for a type of grass when not in bloom. Its rhizomes spread slowly, causing the plant to grow in a tight clump.

Its species name (tenax) means "tough" or "tenacious" and is in reference to the strong, fibrous leaves of the plant, which were used by indigenous peoples for braiding into snares and other cordage.[4]


  1. ^ USDA Plants Profile
  2. ^ Jepson Manual Treatment
  3. ^ "Flags". OSU Libraries. Oregon State University. 2015. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  4. ^ Fagan, Damian (2019). Wildflowers of Oregon: A Field Guide to Over 400 Wildflowers, Trees, and Shrubs of the Coast, Cascades, and High Desert. Guilford, CT: FalconGuides. p. 171. ISBN 978-1-4930-3633-2. OCLC 1073035766.
  • Hitchcock, Charles Leo and Cronquist, Arthur. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press, ISBN 0-295-95273-3.
  • Kozloff, Eugene N. Plants and Animals of the Pacific Northwest. ISBN 0-295-95597-X.
  • Pojar, Jim and MacKinnon, Andy. Plants of Coastal British Columbia. Lone Pine Publishing, ISBN 1-55105-042-0.

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