Moraea aristata

Moraea aristata – Blue-Eyed Peacock Iris

White petals with a vivid blue eye in early summer, above rather thin grass-like foliage.


This is a much treasured plant. It grows to about 40cm and the flowers only some 3-4cm across but the markings are exquisite. The foliage is rather grass or sedge or chive like and tends to begin to turn brown even before the flowers appear. There will be 3-5 flowers on each stem and they open sequentially, so there is never a mass of flowers at any one time. But, oh what a joy each flower is!


Moraea aristata in the wild grows only in Peninsula Shale Renosterveld vegetation, a type that exists on only two hillsides near Cape Town. Needless to say it is critically endangered in the wild, with the last existing population in the grounds of the Observatory in the eponymous district of Cape Town. Presumably a plant of this beauty is safe in cultivation around the world.

Soil / Aspect:

M. aristata is tolerant of very mild frost and quite heavy rainfall. It grows in winter and becomes dormant during summer, having flowered in September and October. It requires good drainage and sandy clay soil. It has to have full sun, even in Coastal Tasman terms – its natural home is 7° latitude closer to the equator than we are here.


This plant is easily overwhelmed, so take care not to let nearby herbaceous plants take over. Indeed once it has died down in summer it is easily forgotten. Its main threat once established may be to be dug up and overplanted by your latest acquisition, in an absent-minded moment – Well worth marking with durable markers, however unsightly! Also, do not fertilise – this will make it put on foliage but no flowers.