Dwarf Iris

Living along the Lake Michigan shoreline is always an adventure because you just never know what you will encounter, rare animals, birds, massive tall ships, foreign freighters, sunrises and sunsets that take your breath away or wildflowers that are unfamiliar.. 

 Recently, my husband during his  morning walk has encountered some workers on the Enbridge project, a gas pipeline company who is upgrading a station and a gas pipeline that crosses the Straits of Mackinac between the Lower and Upper Peninsulas.   They have a base station near historic “Pte. LaBarbe” and Sand Bay just west of the Mackinac Bridge. They seemed to be looking at the ground and covering  quite an area.   When asked what they were looking for, they responded that they are relocating the protected “Dwarf Iris” which apparently only grows in very few areas of the world, this being one.

I had been familiar with this flower from past projects but never really knew it’s history so looked it up and decided to share so that if anyone wanted to search the flower, here would be the information. Its presence has stopped more than one development in this area that I’ve encountered. So here is some history:


What is a Dwarf Lake Iris?

Scientific Name – Iris lacustris

Appearance– Dwarf lake iris is a miniature iris with showy, deep blue flowers. The flowers are about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in width and 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches in height and are born singly on stems less than 2 inches tall. Leaves are up to 6 inches long and 2 inches wide and are flattened, sword-like, and arranged in fan-shaped clusters. Although flowers are usually blue, lilac or white flowers are sometimes found.

Range – Dwarf lake iris only grows around the Great Lakes and occurs near the northern shores of Lakes Huron and Michigan in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ontario, Canada.

Habitat – Occurring close to Great Lakes shorelines in cool, moist lake shore air, dwarf lake iris is found on sand or in thin soil over limestone-rich gravel or bedrock. Habitat is along old beach ridges or behind open dunes. Changing water levels can open new habitat for the plants.

So, the plant thrives here and its fun to know it when you see it.  I’m not worrying that they’ll be disappearing anytime in the near future but always find it amazing that this northern climate has so many interesting discoveries  and they are right under our nose.   I’m curious as to how many will get transplanted or saved  with this new pipeline upgrade and how much that will cost in environmental studies and implementation,  who monitors it…..always interesting statistics.   

In any case, it is certainly worth a stroll along your favorite northern Michigan shoreline

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