Nemastylis

Nemastylis is a new-world genus in the Iridaceae family with 15-25 species distributed from the Southern United States and Mexico to Guatemala. It is related to Tigridia and Cardiostigma. Plants have upright pleated leaves with short-lived flowers. Many pleated-leaf irids originally placed in this old genus have been shuffled about into new genera.


Nemastylis geminiflora ranges from Tennessee and Mississippi west to Texas and north to Kansas and Missouri. Known as the Prairie Celestial as it is found in grassland and prairies, it also occurs in pine woods. The bulbs are often very deep. It has 6 parted sky-blue short-lived flowers and is white at the base with yellow anthers.

Lee Poulsen saw these blooming this spring out in the Hill Country of central Texas. These photos were taken in the evening just before sunset, and hence, it was hard to get a non-blurry photo of them (the last one was taken with a flash, but it bleached the color somewhat), and the flowers were starting to wilt/bunch up into a ball suggesting they only last a day. I tried to get some of the plant form in the photos. The flowers are about 1-1/2 inches (4 cm) across. The bulbs were about 2 cm. in diameter and about 5 in/13 cm. deep. (It was on a friend's property; he says he's accidentally dug up a number of them when digging his vegetable garden and that they're purple. They're mixed in with larger native rainlily bulbs that bloom later in the year.) They tend to be near or under the live oak trees that cover his property. Photos taken April 2004 by Lee Poulsen.

Nemastylis geminiflora, Lee PoulsenNemastylis geminiflora, Lee Poulsen

Nemastylis tenuis is a small irid with narrrow, pleated leaves distributed from Texas and Arizona down to Guatemala. The plants grow about 10-25 cm. in height and are found in Quercus forest, grassy fields and open scrub forest. It has ephemeral flowers that are usually blue or violet in color but can occasionally be white. This species flowers during the rainy season around the beginning of July in Mexico. The plant has a wide distribution in Mexico but is scarce. Photo taken in-situ in Mexico by Dennis Szeszko.

Nemastylis tenuis, by Dennis Szeszko

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