Western blue flag is a pretty wildflower which spreads easily via thick rhizomes. The leafless (except at the base) and unbranched flower scapes arise to about the height of the erect basal leaves. Individual basal leaves have parallel venation and are 20-50 cm long and about 5-10 mm wide.
The 2-4 light blue to violet-blue flowers measure about 7.5 cm across. The 3 sepals are not similar to the 3 petals, with the petals alternating with the sepals. The 3 petals often stand upright and they tend to be slightly shorter and narrower than the spreading to reflexed sepals. The palate of the sepals may have a splash of yellow while the distal portion of the sepals are heavily veined with purplish to bluish penciling. Individual sepals measure up to 6 cm long. The style branches are petal-like, 20-25 mm long, and drape over the lower half of the sepals. The fruit is a capsule measuring 3-5 cm long.
Western blue flag is common in meadows which remain moist until the time of flowering. It is most common in valley bottoms, but may be found in moist areas amongst sagebrush or beneath Ponderosa Pines.
Westernblue flag is widespread east of the Cascade Mts, east to the Dakotas, north to British Columbia and south to northern Mexico.
It is found at about 200' near Horsethief Butte on the Washington side of the gorge.
A pretty native iris for gardens east of the Cascades!
The rootstalks contain a toxin known as irisin, which can be lethal if eaten.