Mom was mystified by this new plant in her flower bed, with leaves similar to an iris but more rounded. Soon the flower emerged, a tiny lily (not iris!), spotted and orange. Next came the unusual seeds, clustered like tiny black grapes. She gave me some seeds, and the odd little lily, here from China, is growing and spreading in my own yard now.
It’s not a native, but it’s not invasive, and it’s cute. I’ll let it have a place in my little, unofficial native prairie restoration.
From wikipedia: Iris domestica (blackberry lily, leopard flower, leopard lily) is an ornamental plant in the Iridaceae family, a flowering perennial of Chinese origin. The dried rhizome has long been used in East Asia to treat throat troubles, asthma, swollen liver and spleen, gonorrhea, malaria, and arrow poisoning. The herb is a principal ingredient in a lung support formula to reduce inflammation (heat) and fight viral infection. Studies are underway to investigate its apparent potential against prostate cancer.
The plant grows 60–90 cm tall in full sun and is often found blanketing hillsides; the flowers can range from red to orange to yellow, or mixed, and bloom in summer to early autumn. The leaves grow in a fan, like those of a gladiolus. The flowers are typically orange spotted with red, although yellow-flowered varieties are in cultivation.
The seed pods open in the fall, showing clusters of black seeds whose fancied resemblance to a blackberry gives the plant its common name, “blackberry lily”. The plant is hardy to USDA plant hardiness zone 5 and is propagated by seeds or division.