Continuing our Michigan A-Z series is D for dwarf lake iris! The dwarf lake iris is native to the northern shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron and is the official state wildflower of Michigan. The dwarf lake iris is also found on the Door Peninsula of Wisconsin and the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island in Ontario, as well as on smaller islands in both lakes. It grows on alvars, which is a biological environment based on a limestone plain with thin or no soil and, as a result, sparse vegetation.
The dwarf lake iris is a threatened species.Threatened species are animals and plants that are likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future; endangered species are animals and plants that are in danger of becoming extinct. There are two main reasons this flower is threatened: loss of habitat and people picking flowers. The lakeshore habitat of dwarf lake iris has been greatly reduced by development of home and vacation properties.
You may ask, what is being done to prevent the extinction of the dwarf lake iris? The first step was getting it listed on the U.S. List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants, which was done in 1988. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently developing a recovery plan to flesh out actions to help this plant survive. Research studies on the reproductive requirements and the genetics of the plant have been conducted to better understand the dwarf lake iris. Government and conservation groups are working to preserve the dwarf lake iris and its habitat and public education programs have been established.
What can you do to help? Learn more about dwarf lake iris and other endangered and threatened species. Understand how the destruction of habitat leads to loss of endangered and threatened species and our state’s plant and animal diversity. Tell others about what you have learned. Join a conservation group and take action! Protect water quality by minimizing the use of lawn chemicals (or even better, do without), recycle your used car oil, and properly dispose of all toxic materials such as paints, batteries, and electronic waste. And if you find a dwarf lake iris, don’t pick it! Take a picture to appreciate its beauty without destroying the plant.