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prairie nymph

herbertia, pleat-leaf iris

Habit Plants (6–)8–15(–24) cm. Herbs, perennial, from tunicate, ovoid bulbs; tunic brown, dry, brittle, papery.

(10–)15–20 mm diam.


simple or 1–3 branched, branching usually from base.

simple or branched.


4–6, mostly basal, ± reaching base of inflorescence, cauline leaves often entirely sheathing;

blade ± linear, 4–6 mm wide.

few, basal larger;

blade pleated, linear-lanceolate.


rhipidiate, few-flowered;

spathes green, unequal, inner spathe exceeding outer, apex brown, acute, usually dry.


short-lived, erect, unscented, actinomorphic;

tepals spreading, distinct, blue to mauve with white markings, unequal, outer whorl more than 2 times inner;

filaments connate;

anthers diverging, appressed to style branches;

style slender, branching at apex of filament column;

branches diverging from base, flattened, divided apically into 2 slender lobes, apically stigmatic.


ovoid–oblong-truncate, 15–25 mm.

ovoid, apex truncate.


ca. 2.5 mm.

many, prismatic;

seed coat brown.



outer spathe ca. 2/3 to ± equaling inner, inner (35–)40–50 mm, apex becoming dry.


bluish purple to violet;

outer spreading, lanceolate, 23–28 × 15–18 mm, flaccid, claws white at base, speckled with violet, 6–7 mm;

inner violet, darkest on claws, ca. 8–12 × 3 mm;

filament column ca. 5 mm;

anthers recurving soon after dehiscence, 7–10 mm;

ovary oblong, 5–7 mm;

style branches 5–6 mm, forked apically for ca. 2.5 mm.


= 7.

Herbertia lahue


Phenology Flowering mid Mar–early May.
Habitat Woodlands and prairies, most common near coast
from FNA
FL; LA; TX; South America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay)
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
from USDA
North America; temperate South America
[BONAP county map]

Herbertia lahue is probably introduced in Florida.

The taxonomy of Herbertia lahue has been much confused. Plants from North America were originally treated as H. caerulea, separate from the South American members of the genus. P. Ravenna (1968) regarded differences between this and two South American species, H. lahue and H. amoena, as trivial and not sufficient to allow anything more than infraspecific separation. He considered plants from northern Argentina to be indistinguishable from those from North America and united them under subsp. caerulea. Without ennumerating their differences, Ravenna treated plants from coastal southern Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina with slightly smaller flowers as subsp. amoena (Grisebach) Goldblatt, and those from Chile as subsp. lahue. The variation in North American populations makes it impossible to maintain even subspecies in H. lahue on the basis of available information.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Species ca. 5 (1 in the flora).

The name Alophia has been misapplied to this genus because of an erroneous interpretation of the identity of the type species of Alophia (P. Goldblatt 1975).

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Source FNA vol. 26, p. 397. FNA vol. 26, p. 396.
Parent taxa Iridaceae > Herbertia Iridaceae
Subordinate taxa
H. lahue
Synonyms Ferraria lahue, Alophia lahue, Alophia lahue subsp. caerulea, Cypella drummondii, H. caerulea, H. drummondiana, H. lahue subsp. caerulea, H. watsonii, Iris brachystigma, Trifurcia caerulea, Trifurcia lahue, Trifurcia lahue subsp. caerulea Trifurcia
Name authority (Molina) Goldblatt: Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 64: 379. (1978) Sweet: Brit. Fl. Gard. 3: plate 222. (1827)
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