Iris brevicaulis

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: zigzag iris 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Iridaceae
Native Range: Central North America
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: June
Bloom Description: Deep bluish purple with yellow-crested falls
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Deer, Wet Soil


Grow in average, medium to wet, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Although a marsh plant in the wild, this species will do very well in the garden under somewhat normal growing conditions. Prefers a rich, humusy, slightly acidic soil.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Iris brevicaulis has large, deep bluish purple flowers with yellow and white crests on the falls. Flowers are borne on low-growing, sprawling stems which typically zig-zag to a height of no more than 5". Sometimes called short-stemmed iris. Long, strap-like, green leaves (10-20") will often hide the blooms. May not produce flowers every year. This Missouri native is most often found in the wild in damp grasslands, along streams, in sloughs, in woodland valleys, and in ravines at the base of wooded slopes. Spreads by rhizomes.

Genus named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow.

Specific epithet means short-stemmed.


No serious pest or disease problems.


May be grown in a partially shaded area of the rock garden, perennial border, woodland garden or naturalized area. May also be grown along streams or ponds. Because the flowers are often hidden from sight, this iris may not deserve a prominent place in the garden. Good source for fresh cut flowers.