The Abbeville Red Iris: The rarest species of Louisiana iris is Iris nelsonii. This iris is very special because it is the only plant that is endemic to Louisiana, which means that it does not naturally grow anywhere else. Iris nelsonii is relatively large, growing 4-6 feet tall. The flowers are red or red-purple (sometimes pale yellow). Its natural range is restricted to a single swamp in Vermilion Parish, which is privately owned. It has been introduced to Palmetto Island State Park to make it viewable to the public. For its habitat it prefers cypress-tupelo gum swamps with fluctuating water levels.
Planting Palmetto: On October 18th, 2011, Friends of Palmetto Island joined Palmetto Island State Park, Wildlife and Fisheries and Office of State Park’s staff to plant 100 bulbs of native Abbeville Red Iris back within the park for everyone to enjoy. Establishing the Abbeville Red Iris in the park was a cooperative effort through a partnership between LA Office of State Parks and LA Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries. Wildlife and Fisheries provided the funding and Office of State Parks provided the location.
Friends of Palmetto Island published a color brochure about the Abbeville Red for Palmetto Island State Park. Stop by the park's entrance station or nature center to get a copy.