Harlequin blueflag

Prepared by Jennifer L. D’Appollonio, Assistant Scientist, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. Updated February 2018.

Scientific name: Iris versicolor L.

Common name(s): harlequin blueflag, larger blueflag, blue iris

Links: USDA PLANTS Profile , NPIN Profile, Go Botany

Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)



-leaves are:

  • basal and alternate
  • lanceolate and linear

-can reach up to 2-3 feet

-generally flowers in June in ME

-may be confused with I. hookeri, but only on coastal beaches; see left sidebar of Go Botany webpage


-disturbed areas



-river shores

Natural History:

-used by Native Americans to treat

  • burns
  • wounds
  • swelling
  • liver and kidney disease

-the plant and especially the root are toxic


Heinrich, B. 1976. Flowering phenologies: Bog, woodland, and disturbed habitats. Ecology. 57(5):890-899.

Go Botany. “Iris Versicolor L.” Iris Versicolor (Blue Iris): Go Botany, 2020, gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org/species/iris/versicolor/.