Iris lacustris
Dwarf lake iris
Image of Iris lacustris

Photo by Susan R. Crispin 

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Key Characteristics

Small forb forming dense clumps along calcareous shores of the Great Lakes in northern Michigan; leaves short (15 cm) and flattened; flowers iris-like, deep blue.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: T
  • US Status: LT
  • State Rank: S3
  • Global Rank: G3


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Presque Isle122010
Distribution map for Iris lacustris

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Dwarf lake iris is endemic to Great Lakes shorelines, where it is found in coastal cedar-fir-spruce forests and limestone pavement/grassland (especially along Garden Peninsula Niagaran escarpment formation). In coastal dune systems, it typically occurs at the forested edge of the back dune.

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

White cedar, balsam fir, white and black spruce, ram's head orchid, dwarf lake iris, ebony sedge, beauty sedge, Canada mayflower, starflower, gaywings, twinflower, blue-bead lily, goldthread, fly honeysuckle, naked miterwort, and kidney-leaved violet.


This species requires protection of habitat and natural disturbance and hydrological regimes. It is sensitive to mechanical disturbance or removal of its substrate, but readily forms clones from rhizomes and may benefit from light natural disturbance.

General Survey Guidelines

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgement of the investigator.

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at [Accessed Aug 18, 2018]

More Information

See MNFI Species Abstract


Survey References

Technical References

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