Guardian Nature School Team Contact Blog Project Noah Facebook Project Noah Twitter

A global community of nature enthusiasts
photographing and learning about wildlife

Join Project Noah!
nature school apple icon

Project Noah Nature School visit nature school

African Iris

Dietes bicolor


Blooms appear in these approximate colours: White, Banana Yellow and Pastel Purple. When mature, blooms are roughly 0.4 cm (that's 0.16 inches in imperial) in diameter. The blooms display an average of 6 petals. It is a flower that typically grows as a perennial, which is defined as a plant that matures and completes its lifecycle over the course of three years or more. African iris is known for growing to a height of approximately 45.0 cm (1.46 feet). This plant tends to bloom in mid spring. Dietes iridioides is a herb that produces sword-shaped, dark green leaves in a loose fan. This prolific flowerer carries its flowers on a wiry, arching stem. Its flowers are subtended by white sheathing bracts; the inner petals are often marked with brown streaks near the base; the style branches are lightly flushed with violet, 30-40 mm wide. The flowers are closed by midday except on overcast days. Flowers are produced from spring through to summer.


This particular specimen is in my front yard near my letterbox, and is about 3-4 feet in diameter.


Growing African Iris from seed: Sow seeds in spring after last frost or divide large clumps which spread by means of rhizomes. African Iris has a tendency to self sow quite readily. Transplanting African Iris: Dietes is effective in mass plantings under trees and around water features. Seed Saving African Iris: Fruit is a capsule, oval shaped and it disintegrates to release black seeds. Allow the heads to dry completely on plants, then remove seeds. African Iris Folklore & Trivia: Infusions made from the inner part of the rhizome are taken orally in enemas to treat dysentery. Rhizomes are used during childbirth and also for hypertension (Pujol 1990). Ground rhizomes are ingredients in tonics for goats (Hulme 1954). Roots are used for first menstruation. Some people call this the Rain Iris as they believe that flowering of this plant presages rain. Some African cultures believe that, if you have been to a funeral or entered a house with a corpse, you must chew the rhizome and spit on the ground to take the bad luck away. And if you do not chew the rhizome, an immediate member of your family is going to die. Notes: This plant is a great attractor for butterflies and bees, so if you are looking to attract wildlife African Iris is a great choice. South Africa is believed to be where African Iris originates from. African Iris is normally quite a low maintenance plant and is normally very easy to grow - great for beginner gardeners! African Iris is normally quite a low maintenance plant and is normally very easy to grow - great for beginner gardeners! How to grow African Iris Full Sun These tough, drought-resistant plants will thrive in semi-shade as well as full sun, often where little else will grow. Dietes iridioides will tolerate both wind and frost, and seeds itself freely. Plantlets often develop on the flower stems and root easily when they touch the ground. Remember to deadhead regularly if you don’t want volunteers to appear next season, as it self sows very freely. Try to plant in a location that enjoys full sun and remember to water moderately. Use Zone 8 - Zone 11 as your guideline for the appropriate climate for this plant. African Iris tends to grow best in a soil ph of between 6.1 and 7.8 meaning it does best in weakly acidic soil - weakly alkaline soil. Keep in mind when planting that African iris is thought of as hardy, so this plant will survive close to or on freezing temperatures. My information came from this website:

Species ID Suggestions

Sign in to suggest organism ID

No Comments

Spotted by

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Spotted on Oct 8, 2012
Submitted on Aug 7, 2013

Related Spottings

Fortnight lily African iris African Iris Wild Iris

Nearby Spottings

Common Spotted Ladybird Shasta Daisy Common Spotted Ladybeetles Common Spotted Ladybird
Noah Guardians
Noah Sponsors
join Project Noah Team

Join the Project Noah Team