Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Collecting Louisiana Iris at San Bernard NWR, December 2015

As part of the ongoing support of the TCWP's stormwater retention project, several TMN-COT members gathered on 10-Dec-2015 from 9am-12pm for an informal workday at San Bernard NWR to collect several hundred rhizomes of the native Louisiana Iris (Iris hexagona) [1] found growing there in several large patches. These rhizomes will be planted into 1-gallon plastic pots at the new TCWP satellite nursery at GCBO, eventually being placed into shallow above-ground "grow out" ponds. Once established, these plants (and other native wetland plants) will be used to create "engineered wetlands" in stormwater retention ponds of Brazoria and Galveston counties.

The group has a special use permit from USFWS to collect these iris through May-2016, thought to be the species known as Dixie Iris (Iris hexagona), one of five "beardless iris" species which are collectively referred to as Louisiana Iris. The species is not common in Brazoria Co., and this population represents the extreme southwestern edge of its native range, which extends along the Gulf Coast from SE Texas to Florida. It favors sunny shallow-marsh areas, and grows thickly together to a height of about 3 to 3.5 feet. The flowers are primarily blue-purple in color, occurring on stems just taller than the sword-like leaves, although rarely the color can be lighter to almost a pure white. Pollinators tend to be native bumblebees, attracted by the yellow throat. Consequently, the species has been identified as useful for the shallow shelf areas of the specially-designed "wet bottom" stormwater retention ponds. A number of locations (patches) have been identified at SBNWR, and future workdays will be used to collect at additional locations for the sake of genetic diversity.

Photos by Roger K. Allen.

[1]  Louisiana iris. (2015, October 10). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved December 17, 2015, from

4279--Ken Arnold  preparing to jump back into the bog after pulling out a full bucket of Iris hexagona at Patch #5.

4281--Mike Mullins  with a prize winning specimen of Iris.

4283--Mix of native and invasive vegetation next to Patch #8.

4285--Patch #8 of Iris hexagona.

4287--Chris Kneupper telling Mike Mullins where to get to Patch #5

4288--Great Egret flying above refuge near Patch #5.

4289--Ken Arnold cleaning mud and unwanted
 vegetation  off Iris hexagona at Patch # 5

4290--Chris Kneupper, Mike Mullins, Bob Salzer, and Ken Arnold  at Patch #5.

4293--Chris Kneupper, Mike Mullins, Bob Salzer, and Ken Arnold  at Patch #5.

4294--Chris Kneupper, Mike Mullins, Bob Salzer, and Ken Arnold  at Patch #5.