Iris flowers grow on tall stems and attract pollinators with their bright colors, distinctive beards and yellow patches. The six petals can have ruffled or smooth edges. Bearded, non-bearded and wild varieties of irises grow all over the world.
The iris's petals and sepals together form the perianth. The iris has three upright petals called standards and three lower petals that bend down called the falls. The falls are the sepals. The standards attract the bumblebee pollinators to the flower and the falls provide a place for bees to land.
The falls of the bearded iris has fuzzy surfaces like hairs (the beard) that the bee can cling to as it moves into the flower in search of nectar. Non-bearded varieties of iris have curved falls that help the bee stay on the flower as it moves inward.
The style arm is the important reproductive part of the iris flower. It is curved inward forming a sticky stigmatic lip so that the pollen on the bee's back will rub off. The pollen comes in contact with the anther (stamen). The bee enters the flower in search of nectar and deposits the pollen as it moves.
The non-bearded iris has brightly colored veins on its falls that direct the bumblebee down into the flower. A yellow patch or signal attracts pollinators and lures them into the flower.
The iris flower is highly specialized to attract pollinators. In a garden where many flowers are blooming at the same time, the iris's long stem helps it rise above the low-growing plants. Bumblebees are very attracted to iris blossoms.