Herbert G. A. W. Arnott in W. J. Hooker and, Bot. Beechey Voy. 395. 1840.
Iris beecheyana Herbert; I. douglasiana var. alpha Dykes; I. douglasiana var. altissima Purdy ex Jepson; I. douglasiana var. beecheyana (Herbert) Baker; I. douglasiana var. bracteata Herbert; I. douglasiana var. major Torrey; I. douglasiana var. mendocinensis Eastwood; I. douglasiana var. nuda Herbert; I. douglasiana var. oregonensis R. C. Foster; I. watsoniana Purdy
Rhizomes freely branching, forming large colonies, slender, 0.8—0.9 cm diam., covered with remains of old leaves; roots fibrous. Stems 1—4-branched, solid, 1.5—7 dm. Leaves: basal with blade yellow-green, occasionally darker green, sometimes flushed pink or red basally, prominently ribbed, linear, 4.5—10 dm × 2 cm, apex acute; cauline 1—3, reduced. Inflorescence units (2—)3-flowered, branch units 2—3-flowered; spathes opposite or separated, divergent, green, sometimes flushed purple basally, lanceolate-acuminate, 6—12 cm × 7—12 mm. Flowers: perianth deep red-purple, lavender, gray-blue, cream, or white, with gold signal and blue or purple veins; floral tube 1.5—2.8 cm, usually widening to bowl shape at base of flower; sepals oblanceolate to obovate, 5—9 × 1.4—3 cm, base gradually attenuate, apex obtusely rounded; petals oblanceolate, 4.5—7 × 0.9—1.8 cm, base attenuate to narrow claw; ovary elliptic-oval, sharply triangular in cross section, 3—4 cm; style 1.7—3.5 cm; crests overlapping, subquadrate, 1—2 cm, margins coarsely toothed; stigmas triangular; pedicel 2—5 cm. Capsules sharply triangular in cross section with ridge at each angle, tapering at both ends, remnant of floral tube forming tip at apex, 2.5—5 cm. Seeds dark brown, pyriform, wrinkled. 2n = 40.
Flowering Apr--Jun. Open woods, sunny slopes and fields; Calif., Oreg.
R. C. Foster (1937) named several varieties of Iris douglasiana, about which L. W. Lenz (1954) said, "This is a widespread and extremely variable species whose total variability is being increased due to introgressive hybridization between it and other species with which it has come into contact. Well marked and distinct geographic races cannot be detected; however, pronounced variations are to be found within a single population. For these reasons no attempt is made here to segregate taxa within such a polymorphic species."
Iris douglasiana hybridizes with I. bracteata, I. chrysophylla, I. fernaldii, I. hartwegii, I. innominata, I. macrosiphon, I. munzii, I. purdyi, I. tenax, and I. tenuissima. The natural hybrid between I. douglasiana and I. innominata has been designated as Iris ×thompsonii R. C. Foster and the garden hybrid as Iris ×aureonympha E. H. English.