A Walk in Fern Bluff Park
March 23 & 24, 2001 

Page 1: The Celestial Ghost Iris (Nemastylis geminiflora)

Archives of previous walks in the park: 12 May 2007 05 May 2007; 28 April 2007, 21 April 2007, 14 April 2007,  1 April 2007 Easter Egg Hunt; 24 March 2007,  17 March 2007; Nov. 03, 2001; April 04, 2001; March 25, 15, 10-11, 04, 2001; February 2418, 10, 2001

Surprisingly, many of my reference manuals do not mention this specific flower, although all describe other members of its family. It is a member of the Iris Family (Iridaceae), which is a cosmopolitan (widely distributed around the globe) family of 92 genera and 1,800 species of herbs and a few half-shrubs. It is most abundant in Africa. One species of Iris inspired the Egyptians to place its image on the brow of the Sphinx, while another was adopted by the French (Fleur-de-Lis) in the 12th century as their king's armorial emblem. 

Nemastylis geminiflora is found throughout the Texas hill country, in the south (e.g., the King Ranch, where it thrives in bare areas unsuitable for other plants) and north at least as far as Arkansas, where 12 counties have reported it among their native flora.

Two separate whorls of blue petals make up the flower, but the distinction between the two whorls (i.e., in terms of which one is the inner or outer whorl) is difficult to determine. For that reason they are collectively referred to as the perianth. The linear, arching leaves are folded, or plicate, and have a "W" cross-section  

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Bugsinthenews ... Blue Flower Gallery

This flower was first seen in the southeast sector of the park, about five feet off the east side of the path in a small clearing. It was perfectly formed and a beautiful specimen. Only one was found at that location. Later, in the northwest sector, again in a small clearing, five others were found. They were perhaps a day older, because their petals were wilted and wrinkled. Since then, this specimen has disappeared, while the NW group has produced fresh flowers. It blooms through May, although each new blossom lasts only about a day. We should continue to see new blooms for the next two months. Horticulturalists have tried, without success, to grow it from seed.

Archives of previous walks in the park: 12 May 2007 05 May 2007; 28 April 2007, 21 April 2007, 14 April 2007,  1 April 2007 Easter Egg Hunt; 24 March 2007,  17 March 2007; Nov. 03, 2001; April 04, 2001; March 25, 15, 10-11, 04, 2001; February 2418, 10, 2001