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Plantae / Angiospermae (Flowering plants) / Angiosperms (Seed Plants) / Asparagales / Monocot

Iridaceae A.L. de Jussieu
Iris Family


The Iridaceae are perennial herbs from rhizomes, bulbs or corms comprising about 80 genera and 1,500 species. The leaves are distichous and have a sheathing, equitant base and a generally ensiform or linear blade with parallel venation. The flowers are bisexual, usually showy, and are actinomorphic or zygomorphic. The perianth consists of 6 petaloid tepals in two differentiated or undifferentiated whorls. Commonly all 6 tepals are united into a perianth tube or epigynous zone. The androecium consists of 3 distinct or connate stamens positioned opposite and often adnate to the outer tepals. The gynoecium consists of a single compound pistil of 3 carpels, a single, commonly 3-branched style, and an inferior ovary with 3 locules, each containing few to numerous axile ovules. The fruit is a loculicidal capsule.

Worldwide: 78 genera and 1750 species
Hawaiian Flora: 5 genera and 7 species
Widely distributed.
Major Genera:
Gladiolus (255), Iris (250), Moraea(125), Sisyrinchium (100), Romulea (90), Crocus (80), Geissorhiza (80), Babiana (65), and Hesperantha (65)
Economic Use(s):
The stigmas of Crocus sativus are the source of the spice saffron. Many ornamental flowers.
UH Manoa Campus Accession(s)

Lyon Arboretum Accession(s)

Key Characters  
Flower: Complete, Perfect .
Floral Symmetry:
Radial or sometimes Bilateral.
+, Weakly Differentiated.
Tepals (T):
Calyx (K):
3, Often Petaloid, Distinct and Epigynous or arising from an Epigynous Zone (EZ).
Corolla (C):
3, Often, Petaloid, Distinct and Epigynous or arising from an Epigynous Zone.
Androecium (A):
3, Distinct or Monadelphous, Epigynous or Adnate to Epigynous Zone.
Gynoecium (G):
Syncarpous, Pistil=1, Carpels/pistil=3, Locules/pistil=3, Ovules/locule=?.
Alternate, Distichous.
Simple, Equitant, with Sheathing Base.
Other distinctive features:
Stigmas often Petaloid.
Floral Formula:

Profile Diagram of Flower Transverse Diagram of Flower
Web References: Angiosperm Phylogeny Website, Wikipedia

Local genera/species: ( 1 / 1 )

Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2003). An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG II. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 141: 399-436 (Available online: Abstract | Full text (HTML) | Full text (PDF))

The Angiosperm Phylogeny Group. (1998) An Ordinal Classification for the Families of Flowering Plants. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. [1]

Carr, Gerald. Vascular Plant Family Page.

Judd, W. S., C. S. Campbell, E. A. Kellogg, P. F. Stevens, & M. J. Donoghue. 2007. Plant Systematics: A Phylogenetic Approach, 3rd ed.

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Citation: Core Systematics Curriculum Module. University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Department of Botany. Honolulu, HI.
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