On or around June 6, 1806, Captain Meriweather Lewis collected this flower on his return trip to Washington.
This very interesting story can be read in it’s entirety on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website.
Rocky Mountain iris, a member of the iris family, Iridaceae, is a perennial with sword-like blades for leaves. The flowers are pale blue to light lavender with yellow patches and purple veins. The flowers are large and showy and have three sepals, three petals and three styles and the plants can reach a height of two feet. The plant is rhizomatous and will spread from underground stems, often forming large colonies when conditions are right. Rocky Mountain iris grows in open meadows that are wet in the spring or in other areas with some moisture. The species can be found from British Columbia to New Mexico and east to Minnesota. It is considered rare in Alberta, North Dakota and Nebraska. This iris is the only native iris found in Montana. It is fairly common in western and central Montana and makes a good choice as a native landscaping plant. It is fairly easy to grow from seed and should be planted in areas that receive some moisture.