Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database

Iris tenax (Oregon Iris)



 Plantae – Plants


 Tracheobionta – Vascular plants


 Spermatophyta – Seed plants


 Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants


 Liliopsida – Monocotyledons






 Iridaceae – Iris family


 Iris L. – iris


 Iris tenax Douglas ex Lindl. – toughleaf iris

Note: Throughout the years I've written short articles for our website's home pages (home pages are the front page of a website) about these plants. They are now included at the bottom of this page, and are illustrated by botanical drawings and paintings, some of which are from books published from 1500 - 1900.

A beautiful native grass iris, growing 1-2’ tall.

Oregon Iris, as the name suggests is at home in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. It is also found scattered across western Washington and northern California. It can be successfully grown outside of this range, as it is hardy in USDA zones 5-9.

It is a low growing iris with narrow grass-like blades and showy dark blue, short tube flowers on thin stems.

Oregon iris grows in open, sunny sites, and sometimes in dry areas such as meadows, pastures and woodland openings, with an acidic soil.

“Tenax” means tenacious and indeed the leaves were renowned for their strength. Natives used them for rope.

For a short comparison of northwest native iris, click here.

Drawing below center from Hospice Oregon.


From Homepage May 12, 2006

Here in Oregon's Willamette Valley, the native iris are blooming. I see them in the grassy areas along the roads and sometimes the space there is just glowing with their purple petals.

The foliage of this iris is very nice, grass-like and quite strong. The First Nation peoples used the leaves for making rope. It would lend itself nicely to basketry as well.

Native Iris are beautiful tucked into sunny areas of the garden. They do not mind dry conditions a bit and that colorful bloom is so sweet. It's an excellent cut flower. Do add some to your landscape. Perfectly lovely and hardy between USDA zones 5-9!

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