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Synonym: Iris Minor, Iris gormanii.
Habitat: Iris tenax is native to southwestern Washington and northwestern Oregon.. It occurs along roadsides and in grasslands and forest openings at low to middle elevations. One subspecies is also known from northern California.
Iris tenax is a perennial herb growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in).
It is not frost tender. It is in flower in May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile. Like most irises, it has large and showy flowers. The flowers bloom in mid to late spring and are usually lavender-blue to purple, but blooms in white, yellow, pink, and orchid shades are known to sometimes occur. The leaves are very slender for an iris, seldom over 5 mm broad; the plant is often mistaken for a type of grass when not in bloom. Its rhizomes spread slowly, causing the plant to grow in a tight clump.
Its species name (tenax) means “tough” or “tenacious” and is in reference to the strong, fibrous leaves of the plant, which were used by indigenous peoples for braiding into snares and other cordage.
Requires a really well-drained lime-free soil that is dry rather than damp[79, 233]. Succeeds in dry shade according to another report which also says that, once established, it is drought tolerant. Very easy to grow in a lime-free woodland soil. Succeeds in full sun or partial shade. A very ornamental plant. Hybridizes freely, especially with other Pacific Coast Irises. Iris tenax hybridizes with I. bracteata, I. chrysophylla, I. douglasiana, I. hartwegii, I. innominata, I. macrosiphon, I. purdyi, and I. tenuissima. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits.
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed should be sown as early in the year as possible in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first year. Plant out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Division, best done in early September after flowering but it can also be done in March. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.
A tincture of the whole plant, or of the bulbous stems, is given in bilious vomiting, and is recommended for depression.
The American Indians use the fibres of this plant for making ropes.
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