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Updated: 4 days ago

October 27, 2022 New Orleans, La.

Volunteers with the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) completed an iris rescue on Sunday, October 23, 2002 after a call for volunteers went out with only short notice for the event. Six volunteers worked for three hours to remove 1,500 I. giganticaerulea species of the Louisiana iris from a low area in front of the property along Hwy 90 near Des Allemands, La.

This is what the site near Des Allemands, La. looked like during LICI's last iris rescue event held there in July 2021.

Photo: The same site is shown as volunteers dig irises on October 23, 2022. The irises had enough time since the cutting to be able to have their new leaf growth poke up through the debris.

LICI has organized four iris rescue events at the property over the last two years. The landowner had been keeping the state highway workers at bay over the years to stop them from spraying the low area with a herbicide, as all of the ditches in the area have been. However, after he put the property up for sale two years ago the owner felt like it was highly unlikely that the new owners would maintain the area the way he has. The spot would then become densely weeded, including young trees trying to grow up in it, which would block the the drainage. He thought it would be only a question of time before the highway department would start spraying it.

LICI's plan was to go back one more time to remove the remaining irises after the first frost kills back competing weeds and plants. This would expose the irises as they are in their winter growth mode. However, LICI received notice from one of their volunteers that live in the area that the iris area had been cut down to the bare ground. Since the land was for sale they assumed it had sold. This would likely eliminate any chance to get back to finish collecting the irises that remained.

Photo: The son of the owner of the property (in blue shirt) stopped by to tell the group hello. "He was pleased that the irises will be used in LICI's iris restoration projects. We have kept him up-date over the last two years on where his family's irises have been planted," Salathe said.

When they contacted the owner to get the new owner's contact info he said that he hadn't sold it yet and he was the one that cut it. "He recommended that we get out as many of the irises as we can, as soon as we can," LICI's president, Gary Salathe said. "We decided this was a very close call on the land being sold and we didn't want to let too much time go by before we got back out there to dig the irises," he added.

Photo: The group took turns cleaning weeds out of the clumps of irises as they came in from the field.

The October 23rd LICI iris rescue was rushed through with a Facebook event notice only being put up four days before with emails also being sent out to their volunteer list at the same time. "Our six volunteers rallied to the call and came out and got the job done!", Salathe said.

Photo: The estimated 1,500 rescued irises are ready to move on to the next step towards being planted out in the swamps and marshes of Southeast Louisiana.

The second part of this iris rescue took place on Wednesday, October 26, 2022 at the LICI iris holding area in New Orleans, La. where a group of out-of-state high school students volunteered to plant the irises into containers. The students were from the Miami area and were in town through an NCSY program. They arrived at the New Orleans International Airport that morning and drove straight out to the lower ninth-ward neighborhood location of the iris holding area. After working 2 1/12 hours on the beautiful and cool morning the group had all of the irises planted. Common Ground Relief, a local non-profit involved in marsh restoration projects, organized the planting for the high school students.

There were enough empty containers available at the iris holding area because some of the irises rescued earlier in the year had recently gone out for planting in LICI's iris restoration projects.

Photo: The irises are shown being planted at the LICI iris holding area on Wednesday, October 26th, by students that were in New Orleans through a program of the NCSY organization.

The irises will grow and strengthen up at LICI's iris holding area until they are ready to be planted out in the marshes and swamps of southeast Louisiana in late December in the group's iris restoration projects.

Photo: The volunteers that dug up the irises during the iris rescue event on October 23rd are shown on the left and volunteers that planted those same irises into containers on October 26th are shown on the right. "One of the things I really enjoy about working on our projects is that the volunteers come from all age groups and backgrounds," Salathe says.

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Updated: Oct 29, 2022

October 24, 2022 New Orleans, La.

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative's (LICI) founder and president, Gary Salathe, was invited by the American Iris Society's (AIS) Region 2 to participate in their membership zoom meeting on Saturday, October 22. 2022 by giving a presentation on LICI's iris restoration projects. Region 2 of the AIS is made up of iris societies in the state of New York and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

Charles Perilloux, one of a group of members of the Society for Louisiana Irises that preserve species of the Louisiana iris, was also asked to share the 1 hour allotted time for the talk to do a presentation about his group.

Photo: Screenshot of the October 22nd AIS Region 2 Zoom meeting showing Gary Salathe (on left) and Charles Perilloux during the meeting.

The meeting host invited the two presenters because he was particularly interested in knowing if any of the things that LICI and Charles' group does could be replicated in his group's area. Gary's preparation for his presentation (outlined in the article below) included discovering opportunities for iris species restoration in the areas of AIS Region 2.

Since Gary is a contributor to the American Iris Society's World of Irises blog, he wrote an article about his Region 2 zoom meeting presentation for the blog that went live on Monday 24th. You can find his posting here:

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Updated: 4 days ago

Madisonville, La. October 7, 2022

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative partnered with the Louisiana Iris Species Preservation Project of the Society for Louisiana Irises (SLI) to collect Louisiana iris seeds and plants for a donation to Professor Domingo Jariel, Department of Biology, in the Agriculture department at Louisiana State University in Eunice, La. The professor was shipped 200 I. giganticaerulea seeds and 20 I. giganticaerulea plants two weeks ago and 20 I. brevicaulis plants yesterday.

LSU Eunice is the only comprehensive two-year institution within the LSU system. The town is in parts of three parishes, St. Landry, Acadia and Evangeline in West-central Louisiana.

Professor Jariel contacted LICI a few months ago and asked for their help in finding seeds and plants of native Louisiana iris species. He has been doing studies and experiments with his students on trying to increase the number iris seeds that successfully germinate. The information could become very helpful for a future effort to propagate species irises for marsh and swamp restoration projects.

The I. giganticaerulea plants and seeds that were donated to Professor Jariel came

from this clump of irises that are seen blooming in April 2022.

LICI connected Professor Jariel with members of the Louisiana Iris Species Preservation Project of the Society For Louisiana Irises (SLI). A decision was made that LICI would partner with SLI to help the professor. LICI's volunteers would go out and collect the I. giganticaerulea seeds and plants and the members of SLI would collect and donate the I. brevicaulis plants and seeds. In exchange, Professor Jariel will share with SLI the future results of the experiments and what his students have learned.

Seed pods and seeds of the I. giganticaerulea species of the

Louisiana iris are shown in the photo.

"This whole arrangement will work out really well because we at LICI are not interested in germinating iris seeds ourselves since we only do planting projects using irises we have rescued from destruction out in the wild. But we do love getting in the outdoors to collect seeds and iris plants!" president of LICI Gary Salathe said.

Salathe added that LICI also sees a real value in these studies being done on the I. giganticaerulea seeds by LSUE because his group is advocating for USDA-approved nurseries to do mass propagation of Louisiana irises for the huge marsh and swamp restorations that will be taking place when the Mississippi River diversions finish construction and begin to operate. "There are a few key things that need to happen first, one of which is being able to teach these nurseries when the time comes on how to propagate irises from seeds," Salathe says.

Many of the SLI members that are involved in the donation are iris hybridizers. Their hobby requires that they know a thing or two about iris seed germinating, so they will be offering Professor Jariel ideas and advice, as he requests it, on what they know in exchange for him sharing the results of his students' work.

The I. brevicaulis species of the Louisiana iris in bloom. The range of this

iris includes the areas around west Louisiana.

The twenty I. brevicaulis plants ended up being donated by the Greater New Orleans Iris Society from their collection of species irises at their nursery because the site where the irises and seeds were to be collected from was destroyed by Hurricane Ida. Unfortunately, this was not discovered in time to allow for seeds to be collected from other sites.

The I. giganticaerulea iris plants and seeds collected for the donation came from a large stand of irises growing along a remote lake shoreline within the undeveloped natural areas of a huge subdivision near Madisonville, La. They are irises that were rescued five years ago and planted there. They have now become part of the LICI project to have sites growing and increasing their rescued irises all on their own in the event there are no sites available with irises to rescue when a need comes up for irises to plant in the future.

An I. giganticaerulea iris flower is shown with its number one pollinator, the bumblebee.

An article about the SLI's project by Charles Perilloux, who is one of the members of the SLI Species Preservation Project, can be found here:

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