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The Iris Family:Iridaceae

The Iridaceae is the family of iris and related plants. Members of the giant group Lilianae, the irids mostly have corms or a rhizome, although a few have bulbs. The flowers are bisexual and often quite irregular; they are characteristically at the top of a stalk, and cymose, but this may be reduced to a spike or even to almost nothing, as in the Crocus. The leaves are narrow and flat, usually all produced from the base of the plant, and often in a flat  fan.  The flowers in this group can be extremely variable in form (Discussion based on V.H. Heywood, "Flowering Plants of the World­ Mayflower Books, New York, 1978.)

The older usage of the family Liliaceae was an all-inclusive collection of plants that are considered in most recent classifications to belong to many families in at least two orders, Asparagales and Liliales. The family Iridaceae is now considered to be part of the Asparagales.

Besides the familiar bearded iris of the garden, other members of this family include the siberian and japanese iris (genus Iris), Crocus, Freesia, Babiana, Ixia, Moraea, Cypella, and Gladiolus.

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James E. Shields,
Last revised: 07 January 2010
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