LICI Iris Planting at the Nature Conservancy’s Property in Grand Isle, La.
Updated: Feb 14
January 17, 2021 Grand Isle, La.
The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) organized a Louisiana iris planting on Wednesday, January 16th, 2021 at The Nature Conservancy’s Grilletta Tract in Grand Isle, La. The volunteers included members of the Native Plant Initiative, Grand Isle Garden Club, Terrebonne Parish Bird Club and LICI volunteers.
The iris planting was arranged by Jean Landry, manager of The Nature Conservancy’s Grand Isle properties, to add to the native Louisiana irises already growing on the property. This was the third time that irises have been planted over the last two years as part of Jean’s efforts to increase the number of native plants growing there.
Photo above: Jean Landry (on far left) gives the group a history of the property and her involvement in it during her opening remarks. She also explained why this is such critical habitat for migrating birds.
Photo above: The view of the trail that runs front to back through the center of the property as seen from one of the Live Oak tree groves.
The Nature Conservancy’s Grand Isle properties are there to preserve what were once large stands of trees, including live oaks, that covered the entire island. These trees are the first that birds have to rest on after arriving at Grand Isle from their long journey flying across the across open waters of the Gulf of Mexico through the central flyway from Central and South America. Its also the last chance for birds to rest after coming from across the central areas of the United States on the their way back in the fall before crossing the Gulf of Mexico. Birders from around the country come to Grand Isle and this tract of land because it offers them the chance to see a congregation of different bird species all within a small area.
I. giganticaerulea species of the Louisiana iris were planted by the volunteers. The irises came from the LICI iris holding area in New Orleans from irises that were rescued at a property this past summer that was expanding a parking lot.
Photo on above: Many of the irises were planted in a
freshwater bog located in the center of the property.
The bog is not affected by tidal action, but does flood during high water events associated with tropical storms or hurricanes. Properties on either side of the Grilletta Tract drain into the bog.
Since the Louisiana iris is a fresh water plant, there was some concern that they may not be able to survive tropical systems' storm surges that occur when a storm passes nearby. However, the irises that were planted last year not only survived 2020's hurricane season, which flood the property twice during the fall, but they seemed to be thriving.
It is possible that fresh water from rain associated with a tropical system quickly flushes out any salt water from a storm surge that has pushed up onto the property. Jean said that the storm surge flood waters drain out very quickly after a storm passes because the rear of the property has frontage on the back bay of Grand Isle, but it takes a few days for the rain water from adjacent properties to then slowly drain off through the bog.
Photo on right: Irises being planted in the bog after some dead grass has been cleared away.
The overall strategy for the morning was to plant the irises in numerous locations to see how well they do. The areas where the irises thrive will get more irises next year.
Photo above: Fifteen of the sixteen volunteers that planted irises at the Grilletta Tract are shown in this "Last goodby and job well done!" photo.
Grilletta Tract can be found at 3151 LA-1, Grand Isle, LA 70358