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Iris setosa

Kathy Haggstrom asked about a breeding programme for a single species,
setosa.  For what it is worth, I would suggest that this would be an
excellent oportunity.  I. setosa is a beatiful flower and the colour is
very rich.  It should become a mainstay in gardens, at least in the
northern areas.  Breeding this species in the garden will generate
considerable variety but it cannot compare with the variety that one has
in nature.  For this reason alone, I would begin by scouring the
countryside for natural variants.  One should be about to find
everything from white right through the blues to almost red.  I would
then take the most beautiful of this range of plants and try to develop
pure lines with the best colours.  This would mean crossing, say, the
best dark red with the next best dark red and raising those seeds.  The
offsring can be backcrossed to the parent or to others showing strong
colour in that red range.  The long term goal would be the introduction
of a red (maroon) that was a beautiful flower and was consistent in
colour and hopefully in form.  The same could be tried for other colour
variants - for example the whites.

I have a lovely setosa which is purple-blue (??) and carries many flower
heads.  It also flowers for a long time and produces many seed pods.
(All the seeds have gone to our local rock garden society exchange and
so most of Ottawa will be covered with setosa over the next few years.)
It does tend to be a bit floppy but is quite outstanding as a garden
flower, which surprised me as I do not find out versicolor a very
attractive garden plant and I assumed that the two would be similar.  I
would have no hesitation in adding other colour varieties if they were

As to the difference between setosa and hookeri, apart from the fact
that the former is more branched, I think that there are very few
morphological differences between the two.  The Japanese researchers did
find a consistant biochemical difference.

Ian, in Ottawa where a little more snow has been accompanies by -16C and
the dog remains vegetarian but it can only reach the Clivia.

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