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Re: SPEC: I. verna


The two varieties of verna are Iris verna var. verna and I. verna var.
smalliana.  From what I have seen of them, there is very little difference
between them.  "Smalliana" is supposed to have stouter rhizomes and grow
more densely; there is actually little difference in flower size.  I. v.
verna seems to prefer a sandy soil and does well under pines in a fairly
dry situation.  I have observed I. v. smalliana only at one place in the
wild; there it was in humusy, gravelly soil at the edge of deciduous woods.
I suspect that a careful study would show that the variation within each of
the two varieties was no greater than that between them and that they
should not be considered nameworthy.  Both have been counted at 42

A couple of years ago, I. verna was on the cover of the AIS Bulletin, and
the included article gave a good deal of information on the species.
Unfortunately I cannot find that issue at the moment.  The SIGNA Study
Manual also has a lot of notes on verna, and the new checklist published by
SIGNA can lead you to much of the other literature.

I have been growing verna for about 20 years, but finally my clumps which
have had no care for all that time, growing in a piney woodland with
evergreen azaleas, have been swamped by a rambunctious curly-leafed ivy and
did not bloom this spring.  I think Joe Pye Weed Gardens lists both forms
and may have the rare white verna...???

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (804)223-6374
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