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Yellow Iris glows in the moist tropical morning air! | by jungle mama
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Yellow Iris glows in the moist tropical morning air!

Neomarica (Walking Iris, Apostle's Iris or Apostle Plant – names also used for the related genus Trimezia) is a genus of 16 species of plants in family Iridaceae, native to tropical regions of western Africa, Central and South America, with the highest diversity (12 species) in Brazil. The genus name is derived from the Greek words neo, meaning "new", and Marica, the Roman nymph.


They are herbaceous perennial plants that propagate by way of a thick rhizome and new plantlets that develop from the stem where flowers once emerged. The plants grow erect, and have long slender lanceolate leaves from 30-160 cm long and 1-4 cm broad, depending on the species. They produce very fragrant flowers that last for a short period of time, often only 18 hours.


The flowers emerge from what appears to be just another leaf, but is really a flower stalk structured to look like the other leaves; they are 5-10 cm diameter, and somewhat resemble Iris flowers. After pollination, the new plantlet appears where the flower emerged and the stalk continues to grow longer. The weight of the growing plantlet causes the stalk to bend toward the ground, allowing the new plantlet to root away from its parent. This is how it obtained the common name of "Walking Iris". The other common name "Apostle Plant" comes from the belief that the plant will not flower until the individual has at least 12 leaves, the number of apostles of Jesus.


Neomarica is closely related to the genus Trimezia; the same common names are used for both genera. See Trimezia: Distinction from Neomarica for characters which distinguish the two genera. One is that the flower stalk (scape) in Neomarica is flattened and leaf-like whereas in Trimezia it is circular in cross-section.


Yellow Walking Iris, Neomarica longifolia, Trimezia martinicensis

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami FL

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Taken on April 6, 2012