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Yellow flag Iris first introduced to North America the 1800s as an ornamental plant for ponds and water gardens. It is a perennial aquatic plant native to Europe, western Asia and North Africa. It can grow in a variety of wetland habitats from open shoreline of lakes or rivers to floodplains. It has been planted in wastewater ponds because it is known to absorb heavy metals. Reproduction is typically by fragments of rhizomes that break off, which can also form new plants.