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Re: Iris Identification

tgreaves@primeco.com wrote:
> Hi, I just got some Irises from a friend who knew the technical name for the
> iris, but not the type.  She said it is:
> Family: Iridaceae, Scientific name: Dietes Vegeta.
> She said it is not TB, MED, LA or BULB.   Can someone point me in the direction
> for further identification?
> Thanks, Tom.

Hello Tom,

Dietes vegeta is not a member of the Genus Iris. Its common names are
(African iris) and (Fortnight Lily). Its relationship to the botanical
genus of iris is instead a sort of first cousin within the Family
Iridaceae. It looks something like this in the botanical literature:

Family: Iridaceae
  Subfamily: Iridoideae
    Tribe: Irideae
      Genus: Dietes Salisbury ex Klatt
              Species: vegeta (L.) N.E. Br.
      Genus: Moraea Mill.
              Species: iridioides L., 1767
      Genus: Iris L.
              Species: versicolor L., 1753

see <http://www.mobot.org> and select the w3TROPICOS database for
botanical nomenclature.

Goldblatt, Peter. Phylogeny and Classification of Iridaceae. Ann. Mo.
Bot. Gard. 77(4): 607-627 (1990).

For more information from the horticultural point of view with
instructions for care, see the New Western Garden Book and its entries
for DIETES and MORAEA. The horticultural trade tends to blur the
nomenclature with synonyms for the same plant species and different
species. Consequently, you must be extra careful to distinguish between
plant labels and the actual plants being sold. Monrovia Nurseries is one
of the principal commercial growers.

We grew these plants in Southern California, and they performed very
well. Commercial landscapers in the southern California area have
recently been using DIETES and MORAEA for extensive plantings in parking
lot planters. These plants are particularly drought tolerant, so they
can withstand the neglect in the hot-dry climate there.

After moving to Western Washington on Puget Sound, USDA Zone 8, we've
been experimenting with a Dietes vegeta. So far this summer, it has
provided just a few blossoms. We suspect the weather is too cool to
promote its normal fortnightly blossoming. Last winter was an
unprecedented mild winter, so we're wondering whether or not the plant
will withstand a harsher winter to come. We'll see.

I hope you enjoy your plant. In the proper circumsstances these plants
can provide bloom all summer and fall until the snow falls.

Dallas Patterson
USDA Zone 8 on Puget Sound, Washington

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