Rare Native Iris Makes Mid Klamath Home
by Tanya Chapple
Did you know that the Orleans Iris or Ishi-Pishi Iris - Iris tenax klamathensis - is a rare plant? It is!
This special yellow blooming iris is only found here, nowhere else in California or Oregon, or the entire world. In fact it is commonly seen only on the west side of the Klamath River between Orleans and Somes Bar. In the past few weeks the sides of Ishi Pishi Road have been bejeweled by this iris. But the irises you see up the Salmon River, or toward Weitchpec or Happy Camp are different species.
Iris tenax ssp. klamathensis is an example of an endemic plant. Endemism is when an organism has a restricted range, found in only one region and not outside of that location. The Klamath Siskiyou biogregion is home to many endemic species because of its unique geography. And to me, the Orleans Iris is the flower shaped shining star that reminds me how special this place we live really is.
Learn more about the work the Middle Klamath Watershed Council (MKWC) is doing to protect native species and prevent invasive species from moving in, and how you can help. Visit our webpages about Restoration Friday volunteer workdays to pull weeds and reseed natives, our collaborative partnership with the Karuk Tribe to create an educational Native Plant Garden in Orleans, and ongoing Native Plant Walks. Also coming up June 18 in Orleans: a workshop on the rapid spread of Sudden Oak Death and what to look for.
MKWC Plants Program Director Tanya Chapple got her formal botany training at UC Berkeley, and has spent nearly a decade since applying that training on the ground in the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion, to the benefit of communities and ecosystems.