The Dwarf or Violet Iris (Iris verna) is pictured above the Crested Iris (Iris cristata). Comparing the flowers should make it easy to tell them apart. Also, their habitats vary.
Dwarf or Violet Irises appear locally from late March to early May. They are found mostly in dry sandy soils along roadsides and open edges of pine woodlands. Oftentimes they grow in association with colonies of Birdfoot Violets.
In contrast, Crested Dwarf Irises bloom from late April to late May; blooming dates are subject to seasonal changes. They prefer rich woodland ravines and are especially noticeable forming colonies along shallow stream edges.
Both dwarf irises are about six inches high. A quick identification rule is that if you spot one growing in open areas, it is likely to be the Violet Dwarf Iris, which blooms about two weeks before the Crested Dwarf Iris.
Copyright © 2001–2002 William T. Hathaway.