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Re: *germanica*

  • Subject: [iris-photos] Re: *germanica*
  • From: "Neil A Mogensen" <neilm@charter.net>
  • Date: Sun, 14 Mar 2004 16:25:14 -0500

I find the current thread about *I. germanica* a bit puzzling.  I've been under the understanding that *I. germanica* (the "real" one) was/is neither more nor less than a specific clone of a 44-chromosome hybrid mistakenly identified by Carl von Linne' (or one of the other variant spellings of his name) as a species, and, unfortunately, on which he based the herbarium specimen as *the* type for the entire genus Iris.  All other species are described by how they compare or differ from this particular speciment of a particular clone in official taxonomic literature.
Confusion is greatly increased when arboretum speciments are labeled "Iris germanica" with a cultivar name following, as if the cv were a named form of that "species" which doesn't actually exist.
Further, Wal-Mart and such often have their packages labeled "German Iris" with a clone name (usually incorrect) for the contents.
I have never heard kochii, albicans or any other of the 44-chromosome hybrids of the same type as *germanica* referred to as variants of that non-existent "species."  The "species" *germanica* refers only to a particular herbarium specimen and living members of the same clone.
The origins of these 44-chromosome hybrids are from either unreduced gametes of the diploid European hybrid swarm of *pallida,* *variegata* and the various balkan species OR the Asiatic tetraploids, some of which can be found north of the Mediterranean, crossed with what used to be called *chamaeiris.*
I'm not positive what the species designation of that complex of not-necessarily identical specimens collected in the wild north of the mediterranean will finally reign.  It won't be *chamaeiris,* for sure, and may or may not be *lutescens.*  I thought I remembered *olbiensis* used in some texts. The book on that one closes when the dust settles, and I'm not sure it has even begun settling yet.  The species complex, itself (themselves?) appear to be amphidiploid hybrid(s) in nature as well, involving one of the n=8 dwarfs, *pseudopumila* if I remember rightly, and one or more n=12 European species.  Since yellow pigments are common, it may be that *variegata* is involved somehow.  The depth of color of kochii among others suggests something more than *pallida* and *variegata* in the mix--probably some form or kin of *aphylla* mixed in there somewhere, even though the flower sizes and heights suggest otherwise.
Neil Mogensen       zone 7 way out in left field in western NC

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