Iridaceae (Iris Family)


Perennials with rather long narrow leaves, Irises and their relatives in Iradaceae have flowers of 3 sepals, 3 petals, and 3 stamens in line with the sepal. The flowers develop between a pair of substantial bracts. The petals and sepals are sometimes similar, sometimes different. The fruit-forming part of the pistil is below the petals and sepals.

Cultivated irises, crocuses, tigridias, freesias, and gladioli are all family members of Iridaceae. Wild members will also grow well in gardens, including Montara Mountain's two representatives, Iris douglasiana (Douglas's Iris) and Sisyrinchium bellum (Blue Eye Grass).



Iris douglasiana:
Douglas Iris

Iridaceae (Iris Family)

Flowers: Pale lavender to Blue to Purple; 3 elaborate drooping sepals and 3 upright petals; at top of stems.

Blooms: March - May

Leaves: Grass-like and long, almost sharp on the edge - bright to dark green, browning with age and exposure.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: All trails - grassy areas and slopes, open fields.

Status: Native - Common.

Further description & Comment: 6 in - 3 ft tall. Growing in colonies. Floral tube and pedicel are of nearly equal length (1 - 2 inches).

Iris douglasiana

This elaborate color and form is found on the cool slopes of San Pedro Mountain above Devil's Slide.

640x480 JPEG - 32K

 Along with the top image, these three show the color variation of Douglas Iris found on Montara Mountain.



Sisyrinchium bellum:
Blue Eye Grass

Iridaceae (Iris Family)

Flowers: Strong blue-purple fading inward to dark with bright yellow centers at top of tall stem; six petals with little spike on top of each petal, Up to 1 inch across; closes up at night.

Blooms: March - June

Leaves: Grass like from base of stem.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: Grassy trails and open areas.

Status: Native - Common.

Further description & Comment: .5 - 1 ft tall, solitary or in small groups. Stems have 2 or more branches, each which will produce a bloom.

Sisyrinchium bellum

640x480 JPEG - 36K

Above, a close-up showing the striking coloration of Sisyrinchium bellum;

Left, the Blue Eye peering out through the grasses of Montara Mountain above Gray Whale Cove.

And another shot of Blue Eyes in the grasses - 610x458 JPEG - 44K


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