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Re: CULT: Purple Leaf Bases

From: "Jeff and Carolyn Walters" <cwalters@digitalpla.net>

> From: vince lewonski 
>    Iris folklore has it that varieties with purple leaf bases are
> stronger and healthier than those without. Is there any scientific
> basis for this, or is it just based on generalized observations?
> (TITAN"S GLORY is good, and has purple leaf bases!) Is the purple leaf
> base an outward sign that a particular iris species can be traced as
> part of its heritage?


As you say, there is an impression current among iris growers that
cultivars with purple based foliage (pbf) are more vigorous and healthy.
Sharon McAllister attempted to do a study to test this hypothesis in 1997,
but unfortunately,  there was not enough data to reach conclusive results.
In my own experience I would say that, as a group, TBs with pbf perform
well above average, but this conclusion is based on limited observations as
only about 5% of the TBs I have been growing for a while exhibit pbf. I
have been convinced enough that there is something to this notion that I
have been deliberately seeking out more pbf cultivars for the past two
years, and so far the results have been promising (i.e., all the newly
acquired pbf cultivars have been performing better than average). There is
one possible confounding effect here, however. It seems that a rather high
proportion of pbf cultivars are plicatas, and it has been my experience
that plicatas, whether they have pbf or not, are better than average
performers as a group.

I believe that modern TBs inherit pbf from I. variegata (and possibly I.
aphylla?). These are the two most cold hardy species that contribute
significantly to the ancestry of TBs, so pbf could be an indicator that
cultivars that exhibit it have also inherited a greater share of hardiness
factors along with it.

Jeff Walters in northern Utah  (USDA Zone 4, Sunset Zone 2)


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