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Re: SPEC: kashmiriana

  • Subject: Re: [iris-talk] SPEC: kashmiriana
  • From: Bill Shear <wshear@hsc.edu>
  • Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2001 17:14:15 -0500

> <This iris (I. kashmiriana) was offered for sale this year from a
> nursery in Kashmir, but due to the war going on, the owner of the
> nursery was killed and no one to take over, but it would probably have
> been without any sense doing so.
> As the name suggest this iris come from Kashmir, Afghanistan and other
> closeby areas.  The plant is aprx 60 -100cm tall, 2-5 flowers white
> tinged blue/purple flowers 10-12 cm in diameter.  The iris is also known
> as I.bartonii.  Natural habitat is 2500-3500 meters abve sea.>

About 25 years ago, I imported "I. kashmiriana" from a dealer in Pakistan.
The plants turned out to be all white I.  albicans, except for one, which
was a violet bicolor.  This last did not survive long.  Maybe it was a real
kashmiriana purpurea (see below).

The BIS species book has some interesting notes on kashmiriana (pp. 38-39):

"In cultivation, kashmiriana has a reputation of wasting away after a good
initial flowering; it is certainly not in general cultivation.  Other
reports, however, speak of its becoming well-established in gardens.  It may
well be a matter of damp winters and lack of sun again."

And later:

"I. kashmiriana presents something of a mystery.  With the exception of I.
glaucescens much further north, it is the most easterly of the species in
this section and is exceptionally isolated from the other tall, or even
quite tall, branching ones.  Apart from obvious escapes, it seems to occur
only in Kashmir and even there appears to grow only in connection with human
settlement, usually graveyards.  Most sites are in the Vale of Kashmir, the
bed of a not so very ancient lake, geologically speaking.  After draining,
the vegetation, apart from what was round its rim, must have migrated or
have been introduced by people.  Kashmir is surrounded by lofty mountains
with alpine flora; the only migration route for plants is up from the Indian
plains.  Whether it is natural there, but extinct now in the wild, or
whether it was introduced by humans and from where cannot really even be
guessed at."

The same author describes the flowers as white, with a blue flush, and also
mentions "kashmiriana purpurea" a bitone purple variety of the species that
is also taller and produces more flowers (up to 14 per stalk).  The
implication is that this "variety" might actually be a different species.
No mention of any occurrences in Afghanistan.

Kashmiriana and albicans are sometimes confused.  Distinctions are given in
the descriptions in TWOI, and in Dykes.

Seems to me to be in error to call this a Mediterranean species, and
certainly the climate in Kashmir would be severe enough to ensure its
hardiness in most of the United States.  I would also wonder about the
extent to which it was involved in the production of the modern tetraploid
hybrids, though it is indeed itself tetraploid (2N = 44 or 48).  Does anyone
have any history on this?

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (434)223-6374
Moderating e-lists:
Coleus at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/coleus
Opiliones at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/opiliones
Myriapod at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/myriapod

"A man thinks as well through his legs and arms as his brain.  We exaggerate
the importance and exclusiveness of the headquarters.  Do you suppose they
were a race of consumptives and dyspeptics who invented Grecian mythology
and poetry?  The poet's words are, "You would almost say the body thought!"
I quite say it.  I trust we have a good body then."  --Henry David Thoreau,
Journals, Dec. 31, 1860.

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