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Iris germanica (Previously Iris Species for Beginners)

In a message dated 96-12-02 22:29:44 EST, you write:

<< I do not grow a lot of species but the one I have not seen mentioned is
 I. Germanica.  (I was told that this species may have been
 reclassified?)  >>

Iris germanica is ancient, and is grown in most areas of southern and middle
Europe, around the Mediterranean, and at least as far east as parts of
Afganistan.  Among the first irises classified as a species by Linnaeus, we
now know it is actually a hybrid, for all practical purposes sterile (one of
the marks of a species is the ability to reproduce itself via seed, an abilty
Iris germanica has never demonstrated).  The taxanomists have been slow to
come to gripes with this.  Ben Hager wrote an excellent paper on this subject
for the Species Iris Symosium held in St Louis a year ago.  

At present, not only have the taxonomists retained the specific designation
of Iris germanica, but indeed have even grouped the 48 chromosome species
from the Middle East, e.g. Iris mesopotamica, Iris trojana, Iris cypriana, as
forms of Iris germanica....this is not logical, as Ben Hager has so well
pointed out.  

>From an aesthetic standpoint, Iris germanica has been featured in art works
for many centuries.  Of course the most famous representation is Van Gogh's
great masterpiece Irises. (The single white iris in the painting is Iris
albicans, now also grouped as a germanica form by taxonomists.) 

One of the great virtues of Iris germanica is that it grows and increases
seemingly everywhere...and is almost indestructible. Even tiny pieces of
rhizomes will grow.  It is generally regarded as originating in a warm
climate because unlike northern European species, Iris germanica retains its
green leaves in winter.  It is one of the irises the Italians used to produce
orris root (the others being Iris florentina and Iris pallida).  (Iris
florentina is also now classed as a form of Iris germanica by taxonomists!)
 I am glad Dana likes Iris germanica....I do too.  Clarence Mahan in VA

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