Black Iris Iris chrysographes
The plant commonly known as the black iris is an eye-catching perennial that boasts a striking appearance. The most distinctive feature of this plant is its deep, velvety flowers which often appear in shades of dark violet or a saturated purple so intense that they appear almost black, thus giving the plant its common name. These richly colored blooms are contrasted by bright yellow or white patterns on the falls, which are the downward-curving segments of the petals. These can be adorned with intricate, gold or silver veins that add to the flower's dramatic presentation. The black iris has a classic iris form with three upright petals known as "standards," and three drooping petals called "falls." The flowers, emerging from tall, slender stalks, exude elegance and are typically adorned with a light sheen that can give them a silky appearance. The foliage consists of long, slender, sword-like leaves that are a grayish-green color, forming dense clumps at the base of the stalks. These leaves often have a slightly arching habit and contribute to the plant's overall graceful structure. The black iris typically blooms in late spring to early summer, offering a spectacular display of its unique and sophisticated flowers which attract a variety of pollinators. Due to its distinct and stunning flowers, it is a popular choice for ornamental gardens, serving as an excellent focal point.
About this plant
Black Iris, Black Flowered Iris, Dark Iris, Goldmarked Iris, Chrysographes Iris.
Iris chrysographes has no known synonyms; its accepted scientific name is Iris chrysographes.
The plant commonly known as Black Iris is generally considered to have a low level of toxicity to humans. If ingested, the most typical symptoms of poisoning include gastrointestinal discomfort such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. The plant contains compounds such as irisin, iridin, or irisine which, if consumed in large enough quantities, can lead to these digestive upsets. Handling the plant may also cause skin irritation due to its saponins content. It is advisable to avoid eating any part of the Black Iris and to wash hands after handling the plant to prevent potential skin irritation.
The Black Iris has a mild to moderate level of toxicity to pets such as cats and dogs. Ingestion of any part of the plant may lead to symptoms such as drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain due to the presence of irritant compounds like irisin, iridin, or irisine. Additionally, the saponins found in the plant can cause gastric upset and occasionally more severe symptoms such as lethargy or anorexia if consumed in significant amounts. It is important to prevent pets from ingesting parts of the Black Iris and to consult a veterinarian if ingestion occurs.
Color of leaves
2 feet (60 cm)
1 foot (30 cm)
- General Benefits
- Ornamental value: Iris chrysographes, commonly known as black iris, is highly valued for its striking dark blooms that can add an element of sophistication and contrast to gardens.
- Drought resistance: Once established, the black iris is quite drought-tolerant, making it a good choice for water-wise landscapes in suitable climates.
- Pollinator attraction: The flowers of the black iris attract bees and other pollinators, thereby supporting local ecosystems.
- Low maintenance: The black iris does not require much care once it has settled into its environment, making it ideal for gardeners who seek low-maintenance plants.
- Seasonal interest: With its unique coloring and late spring to early summer bloom time, the black iris can provide seasonal interest in a garden design.
- Companion planting: It pairs well with other garden plants, both as a backdrop for lighter colored flowers or as a standalone feature due to its unique appearance.
- Medical Properties
This plant is not used for medical purposes.
- Air-purifying Qualities
This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.
- Other Uses
- Iris chrysographes, commonly known as Black Iris, can be used in the art of ikebana, the traditional Japanese flower arranging technique, creating striking centerpieces with its deep violet hues.
- The strong contrast between the dark petals and the golden or bright markings of Black Iris make for beautiful natural dyes, lending rich shades to textiles.
- Black Iris petals are sometimes crystallized for use in gourmet desserts, serving as an elegant and edible decoration.
- The leaves of the Black Iris can be woven into baskets and other crafts, utilizing their fibrous properties.
- This plant's seedpods have a unique shape and can be used in dried flower arrangements and as part of decorative wreaths.
- Gardeners may use the plant as a natural pest deterrent due to its fragrance, which is not favored by certain garden pests.
- The Black Iris can be used as a natural ink for painting or calligraphy, where its shades can provide a unique color profile.
- The blooms of the Black Iris are used in perfumery, contributing to the creation of high-end, niche fragrances.
- In photography, the striking appearance of the Black Iris makes it a prime subject for botanical and artistic compositions.
- Given its beauty, the Black Iris sometimes plays a role in cultural and ceremonial events, like weddings, for bouquet and décor elements.
- Feng Shui
The Black Iris is not used in Feng Shui practice.
- Zodiac Sign Compitability
The Black Iris is not used in astrology practice.
- Plant Symbolism
- Royalty: The Iris chrysographes, commonly known as the Black Iris, has been associated with kings and queens because of its regal, purple-black hues, echoing the richness and grandeur of royal vestments.
- Wisdom: Irises have been a symbol of wisdom and valued for their appearance of insight and intelligence, with the Black Iris being no exception.
- Courage: Throughout history, the Iris has embodied courage, with its bold colors and upright stance making the Black Iris a representation of bravery and strength.
- Faith: The flower's three large petals are often thought to represent faith, hope, and charity, with the Black Iris being reflective of spiritual faith and commitment.
- Hope: As a harbinger of spring, the Iris is a sign of new beginnings and hope, and the Black Iris symbolizes the anticipation for positive changes ahead.
For the Black Iris, watering should be consistent to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. In general, a weekly watering schedule is adequate, providing about 1 inch of water each time. During the growing season in spring and early summer, you may need to increase the frequency to twice a week if the weather is particularly dry. Ensure the water is applied directly to the soil to avoid wetting the foliage, which can lead to fungal diseases. Over the winter months, reduce the watering to every other week, just enough to prevent the soil from drying out completely.
The Black Iris thrives best in full sun to partial shade conditions. A spot that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight daily is ideal. If you are in a very hot climate, providing some afternoon shade will help protect the plant from intense heat.
The Black Iris prefers temperate conditions and can typically survive winters in zones 3a to 9b. They are hardy and can tolerate minimum temperatures down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the ideal growing temperatures for this plant are between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prune the Black Iris to remove any dead or brown leaves and spent flower stalks, which promotes healthy growth and improves the plant's appearance. Pruning is best done in the fall after the plant has finished blooming. This is also a good time to divide clumps if necessary, which may be done every few years to prevent overcrowding.
Black Iris prefers well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter with a neutral to slightly acidic pH, ideally between 6.0 and 7.0. A good soil mix can be made with loam, peat moss, and perlite or sand to ensure proper drainage and fertility.
Black Iris should be repotted every 2 to 3 years or when the clump becomes overcrowded. It is best to divide and repot the rhizomes in late summer after the flowering period.
- Humidity & Misting
Black Iris does not require high humidity levels and is quite adaptable, but it thrives in moderate ambient humidity. Ensure good air circulation around the plants to discourage disease.
- Suitable locations
Place Black Iris in a well-lit spot with direct sunlight.
Plant Black Iris in full sun to partial shade.
- Life cycle
Iris chrysographes, also known as the black iris, begins its life cycle as a seed that germinates in the spring after a period of stratification to break dormancy. The seeds develop into rhizomes that establish themselves in the soil and grow into vegetative plants with long, slender leaves. Over the first few seasons, the plant will increase in size and strength through vegetative reproduction, where the rhizomes spread and create clonal plants. After reaching maturity, which typically takes several years, the black iris will produce its distinctive dark violet or black flowers, generally in late spring or early summer. After pollination, often by insects, the flowers will produce seed capsules that mature by late summer, eventually splitting open to release seeds for dispersal. The plant then returns to a period of dormancy in the winter months, storing energy in its rhizomes to begin the cycle anew come spring.
Iris chrysographes, commonly known as the Black Iris, is often propagated by division, which is the most popular method for this species. The best time to divide the Black Iris is soon after flowering, typically in late summer. To propagate by division, carefully lift the entire clump of the iris out of the ground using a shovel or fork. Gently separate the rhizomes by breaking them apart with your hands, making sure each division has at least one fan of leaves and a portion of the rhizome. Trim the leaves to about one-third their height to reduce water loss. Replant the divisions at the same soil depth as the original plant, spacing them around 8 to 12 inches apart (20 to 30 centimeters), and water them well to help establish the roots. This process encourages rejuvenation of the plant and also helps to control its spread, ensuring the health of the iris for seasons to come.